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Full text of "Madame Leroux"



Presented to the 
LIBRARY of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

from the Estate 
of 

PROFESSOR BEATRICE 
M. CORRIGAN 



MADAME LEROUX. 



* 

.* 



MADAME LEROUX. 



FRANCES ELEANOR TROLLOPE, 

AUTHOR OF 

THAT UNFORTUNATE MARRIAGE," "BLACK SPIRITS AND WHITE, 
ETC. 




VOLUME I. 



LONDON : 
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, 

NEW BURLINGTON STREET, 
|)uljl:s!jers in (Drftmarg to Ifcr JJlajcstn tlje 

1890 
[All Rights Reserved.] 



' j\ LIBRARY 








MADAME LEROUX. 



CHAPTER I. 

ENDERBY COURT so designated in the 
county guide-books, but always spoken of 
by Westfield folks emphatically as " the 
Court" was so near the village as to furnish 
die inhabitants of the latter with a perpetual 
interest in looking out of the window. The 
South Lodge stood within a few yards of 
the village street, and was the medium of 
communication between Enderby Court and 
the great high-road leading all the way to 
London, if one should choose to pursue a 
tolerably straight course southward ; and, 
more immediately, to the railway-station at 
Westfield Road, from whence travellers could 

VOL. I. I 



MADAME LEROUX. 



reach town by a more devious, but far 
speedier, route. 

Few days passed, when " the family " 
was at the Court, without furnishing to 
attentive Westfield some spectacle worth 
the gazing at. Strangers might not, indeed, 
have discovered much to interest them. 
But then Westfield eyes looked understand- 
ingly on the personages who moved in and 
out at the South Lodge, whereas to strangers 
they would have appeared but as unexplained 
hieroglyphs. 

Thus, Mrs. Jackson, seated in the shop 
of the village grocer and general dealer, from 
whence she commanded a view of the road 
nearly up to the lodge-gates, observed, 
without preamble, as one quite sure of her 
hearer's comprehension, 

"Well, whatever my lady could see in 
her to let her be so thick with Miss Enderby, 
/ don't know ! " 

" Oh, well, I suppose my lady had her 
reasons. Should you say Miss Enderby is 
exactly thick with her, d'ye think ? " answered 
'Mr. Pinhorn, the grocer. He was tying up 



MADAME LEROUX. 



a packet of tea for Mrs. Jackson, and looked 
up at her with his large head and fat face 
inclined deprecatingly to one side, and a 
conciliatory smile on his countenance. For 
Mrs. Jackson disdained cheap tea, and 
bought only the " best mixed at three shil- 
lings," and was not to be roughly con- 
tradicted. 

" Well, you can use your own judgment, 
Mr. Pinhorn, whether my expression is cor- 
rect," returned Mrs. Jackson, with tolerant 
superiority. 

The grocer followed her glance above 
and beyond the collection of miscellaneous 
articles in the little shop-window, and 
watched two young girls who were walking 
side by side through the village street, and 
were engaged in seemingly earnest con- 
versation. 

"That looks pretty thick, don't it?" 
added Mrs. Jackson triumphantly. " There 
they go, one's hand on the other's shoulder, 
as familiar as it might be sisters. And talk, 
talk, talk ah ! it isn't jaw as is wanting in 
that family, nor yet cheek to carry it off. 



MADAME LEROUX. 



But whatever my lady could see in her, 
passes me." 

Mr. Pinhorn rubbed his hands and smiled 
again. " Well, she's a a rather nice figure," 
he ventured to observe; "and a on [the 
whole what one might call an uncommon 
pretty young creature, don't you think ? " 

" Pretty ! Ah, that's what all you fools of 
men are took in with.'* 

Mr. Pinhorn shook his head mournfully, 
as though admitting the soft impeachment 
on behalf of his sex, while he insinuated a 
personal disclaimer by murmuring, " There 
is some as are partial to a good-looking 
woman." 

" Handsome is as handsome does, Mr. 
Pinhorn." 

" That's very true, to be sure very true, 
indeed," rejoined Mr. Pinhorn, sweeping with 
his hand some fragments of tea from the 
counter into a tin canister. " But they say 
the young lady's very clever too. Remark- 
able clever by all I hear." 

"Oh, clever enough, I'll be bound. So 
was her father before her. So's her uncle, 



MADAME LEROUX 



for that matter. Jackson says Lawyer Shard 
would be hard f to beat for 'cuteness. Any 
one can see for theirselves that he's as 

cunning as Old Nick. And shifty ! 

Ah, he has more turns and shifts than a fox. 
He managed all our business for us when 
Jackson's uncle died in testite." 

"In Texas?" said Mr. Pinhorn, doubt- 
fully. 

" No, no ; in testite. That's as much as 
to say that he hadn't made no will, and my 
husband was heir-at-law. Jackson would 
have Lawyer Shard ; for, says he, * if you 
must pay an attorney, choose an out-and- 
outer.' That's what Jackson says." 

" Every one allows Mr. Shard is a good 
lawyer. And Sir Lionel giving him a good 
many jobs to do is a guarantee, as you may 
say. It stands to reason Sir Lionel would 
have his law of the best, being that he can 
pay the best price for it." 

" Yes ; but law's one thing, and taking up 
with people and being so thick with 'em's 
another. I often think if my lady had lived, 
she'd have thought different when the girls 



MADAME LEROUX. 



begun to grow up, and have put a stop 
to such familiar goings on between Miss 
Enderby and Lucy Marston." 

" But we can't suppose but what Sir 
Lionel is a good judge of what is suitable for 
his daughter, can we ? " Mr. Pinhorn spoke 
in a soft, insinuating tone, trying to steer 
between the Scylla of disrespect towards the 
Court and the Charybdis of disgusting a 
good customer. 

' 'Well, it isn't very likely as 7 shouldn't 
have proper feelings towards the family. 
That you never can suppose, Mr. Pinhorn ! " 

Mr. Pinhorn's countenance expressed no 
very ardent conviction as to the propriety of 
Mrs. Jackson's feelings ; but he said, " Oh, 
dear no ! " and rubbed his hands feebly. 

" Me as has lived pretty nigh ten years at 
the Court, housemaid with three under me, 
till I married ! And you're not the man to 
repeat my words in any quarter where it 
might cause unpleasantry. That you never 
would do, Mr. Pinhorn! " 

" Oh, dear no ! " said Mr. Pinhorn 
again. 



MADAME LEROUX. 



" Not as I need to be afraid of anything 
my fellow-creatures has it in their power to 
do against me ; my trust being elsewhere, and 
Jackson having property in the Funds all 
made over to me every penny by will, drawn 
reg'lar, and witnessed, and locked up in 
Lawyer Shard's strong box. And if it 
pleased the Lord to caJl Jackson away this 
night, his mind would be quite easy about 
me, as I've considered it my duty to take 
care he wasn't worritted by worldly matters 
in his latter days." 

This prophetic reference to herself as a 
widow with property in the Funds was a 
mere tactical diversion, intended to impress 
on the grocer the expediency of being civil 
to a customer who might be expected to con- 
sume the " best mixed " for a long time to 
come. Having made it, Mrs. Jackson again 
descended to a colloquial strain. 

11 I've seen a good deal in my time, of the 
way that Lucy Marston has wormed herself 
in with Miss Enderby. For you can't play 
off your sly games on a young woman under 
other women's noses, and think to keep 'em 



MADAME LEROUX. 



in the dark. No, Mr. Pinhorn ; that you 
never can do." 

Mr. Pinhorn smiled a little dubious smile, 
and answered with timid jocularity, 

" Some of the ladies are so sharp- 
specially about each other that they see 
more than ever was, or is, or will be ; don't 
they, now ? " 

" I can't speak for others, Mr. Pinhorn. 
But I know something about high people 
come straight from Lord Percy H umber- 
stone's to the Court, and lived there ten year, 
with three under me, till I married and I'm 
no Radical. I hate your upstarts. Jackson 
always votes Blue. I'm all for the nobility, 
Mr. Pinhorn ; but what I say is, if you are 
high, keep high. It's easy enough to pick 
up low people, but it ain't so easy to put 'em 
down again. Something '11 stick to your 
fingers, as sure as ever you touch 'em. 
However, I never was one to talk and prate. 
Open your eyes and shut your mouth has 
been my principles. There's two fourpenny 
bits and ;i threepenny. The quarter of tea's 
ninepence, and I want twopence out." 



MADAME LEROUX. 



Mr. Pinhorn took twopence from the till, 
and proceeded to wrap the coins genteelly in 
paper. 

" There'll be changes at the Court before 
long," continued Mrs. Jackson, nodding her 
head emphatically, with the consciousness 
of imparting important information. " Sir 
Lionel's sister-in-law is coming to keep 
house for him, and to look after Miss 
Enderby." 

" Keep house ! " echoed Mr. Pinhorn, 
with a startled face ; for he received some 
valuable patronage from good-natured Mrs. 
Griffiths, the housekeeper at Enderby 
Court. 

" Oh, she won't weigh out the sugar and 
soap, if that J s what you're thinking of, Mr, 
Pinhorn ! She's my late lady's sister, Lady 
Charlotte Gaunt. They was Head's 
daughters, both on 'em, Mr. Pinhorn. And 
by what I've heard when I was at the Court, 
this one is very high in her manners. A 
great beauty too, in her time. They do say 
she wasn't best pleased when Lady Jane 
married Sir Lionel Enderby." 



io MADAME LEROUX. 

"Lor!" exclaimed Mr. Pinhorn, with 
bated breath. " What in the world for ? " 

Mrs. Jackson compressed her lips and 
shook her head. " Sir Lionel is a very good 
gentleman, and a very rich J un. But that's 
not everything, Mr. Pinhorn. When you 
belong to the real old aristocracy, you have 
your own ideas, and you dorit want to 
connect yourself with railway irons and canals 
and navvies, and such, and no more notion 
of your great-grandfather than the sparrow 
on the housetop. You cant say you do, 
Mr. Pinhorn ! " 

" Dear me ! " said Mr. Pinhorn. 

" At the same time, when you've over- 
stayed your market, and are not so young as 
you was for my late lady wasn't such a 
chicken when she married, and this one's 
older than her a good bit and as poor as a 
church-mouse poor and proud as the saying 
is you may be glad enough of free quarters 
in a grand house like Enderby Court, and 
leave to play first fiddle into the bargain ; you 
won't deny but what you may, Mr. Pinhorn!" 

"Ay, ay! Indeed! Well, to be sure! 



MADAME LEROUX, n 

Nothing more I can do for you this morning, 
Mrs. Jackson ? " 

" No, no ; that's about all, and plenty, 
too ! We do spend a lot o' money on tea. 
But Jackson and me, we can't abide trash. 
None of your dish-wash for us. And it's 
good for trade. As I often say to Jackson, 
when he looks a little sour over the accounts 
at the week's end, ' How do you expect the 
shopkeepers to live ? ' I say. ' It's a provi- 
dence for 'em that there's folks as need not 
deny theirselves their comforts. There's the 
Vicar, now, with his wife and all them 
children why, I question if they get a taste 
of butcher's meat every day. And more 
dripping than butter to their bread, if all 
tales is true. But I've always been used to 
everything of the best. Wish you good 
morning, Mr. Pinhorn." 

Mrs. Jackson, who was a small, meagre, 
hatchet-faced woman, very neat in her attire 
and alert of gait, marched briskly out of the 
shop, while Mr. Pinhorn, meditatively re- 
placing the canister on its shelf, muttered 
under his breath, 



12 MADAME LEROUX. 

" You re a sharp-tongued one, you are ! 
A woman like that makes a man humbly 
thankful that he's been spared." 

For Mr. Pinhorn was a bachelor. 

But although Mrs. Jackson's opinion of 
Lawyer Shard might be expressed with 
special acrimony, it was more or less shared 
by all the inhabitants of the village. Mr. 
Marston had settled in Westfield when Lucy 
was a baby not yet two years old. He had 
succeeded to the business of a local solicitor 
who had a respectable connection in the 
county. When he had been about five 
years in Westfield his wife died. Although 
Mr. Marston had always maintained a chill 
reserve towards his neighbours, which pre- 
vented any real intimacy between them and 
his family, yet, during his wife's last illness, 
Mrs. Arden from the Vicarage called fre- 
quently with offers of assistance in nursing 
and so forth ; and, after Mrs. Marston's 
death, Mrs. Goodchild, the doctor's wife, 
invited the motherless little Lucy to stay for 
a while in her house. But these advances 
being coldly, though civilly, declined, the 



MADAME LEROUX. 13 

result was to widen, rather than decrease, 
the distance between the lawyer's family and 
their neighbours. 

The feeling of hostility against the 
Marstons thus occasioned for there are few 
things less easily pardoned by our fellow- 
creatures than the manifestation of our ability 
to do without them was not mitigated when 
it presently became known that Lucy 
Marston had been invited to stay on a visit 
.at Enderby Court, and when she came to be 
a familiar inmate of the schoolroom there, 
.and a playfellow of Miss Mildred Enderby. 
Mildred was the only child of Sir Lionel and 
Lady Jane Enderby. She was a shy, back- 
ward child, whose delicate health gave her 
parents some anxiety, and who had never 
left her mother's side for a day since her 
birth. Lady Jane had seen little Lucy 
Marston just by chance, and had been struck 
by her pretty face and bright manner. But, 
what was more to the purpose, Mildred had 
taken a strange liking at first sight to the 
little girl who came forward to shake hands 
with an unembarrassed smile, and who 



i 4 MADAME LEROUX. 

chatted to her of her doll, and her garden,, 
and her pets, as frankly as though they 
had been familiar friends. To many shy 
natures, the absence of shyness in another is 
a potent charm. It was so with Mildred 
Enderby. She begged that Lucy might be 
invited to the Court, and the impression 
made by this first visit was such that the 
little girl soon became a frequent guest there. 
It was soon found that as Mildred's spirits 
grew more cheerful in this new companion- 
ship, her health also improved. By de- 
grees she overcame the languor which 
had threatened to make her a chronic 
invalid ; and she grew up to be a healthy, 
although not robust, young girl. 

Lady Jane always, in her own mind, 
dated this improvement in her daughter's 
health from the beginning of her acquaintance 
with Lucy Marston, and this would have 
sufficed to make her welcome the child to 
the house. But Lucy contrived, moreover, 
to win her ladyship's personal regard. The 
death of the child's mother, however serious 
a misfortune it might have been in other 



MADAME LEROUX. 15 

respects, had undoubtedly assisted her pro- 
motion to a familiar place in the household 
at the Court. Lady Jane Enderby was much 
too great a lady to be afraid of compromising 
acquaintances ; but still, it was convenient 
that her daughter's playfellow and protegee 
should have neither mother, sister, nor other 
female relative who might possibly have 
attempted to be encroaching. 

There was, indeed, an aunt of Lucy's in 
Westfield, her mother's sister, married to a 
Mr. Shard. But Mrs. Shard was not a 
person with whom Lady Jane was likely 
ever to come into contact. Her husband had 
been a very poor and struggling attorney in 
a large manufacturing town. Mr. Marston, 
at his wife's solicitation, gave this brother-in- 
law some employment in his office, and, after 
a while, allowed him to buy a small share in 
the business, The two sisters had not met 
for many years ; and when they did meet, 
Mrs. Marston experienced a blank sense of 
disappointment. Mrs. Shard was not the 
sister Sarah whom she had remembered, or 
imagined. The two women differed as two 



1 6 MADAME LEROUX. 



plants from the same parent stock may differ 
by being transplanted, the one into sunshine 
and rich earth, the other into a poor soil and 
a harsh climate. Mr. Shard, however, made 
himself acceptable in the office ; and when a 
stroke of paralysis, from which he never 
wholly recovered, although he survived it 
upwards of a year, disabled Mr. Marston 
from taking as large a share as formerly in 
carrying on his profession, Shard assumed 
the whole of the active work. 

Twelve years had passed between the 
arrival of the Shards in Westfield and the 
day on which Mrs. Jackson delivered her 
critical opinions on the social proprieties in 
Mr. Pinhorn's shop. And the years had 
made changes in that quiet little village. 
Death, whose dark waters corrode all the 
shores of life, had carried away Mr. Marston 
and Lady Jane Enderby within a few months 
of each other. The former succumbed to a 
second stroke of paralysis, and the latter 
caught cold at the first Drawing Room of a 
very bleak season, and died, after a fort- 
night's illness, from inflammation of the lungs. 



MADAME LEROUX. 



Mr. Marston's death made a more seri- 
ous revolution in Lucy's life and prospects 
than commonly results even from the loss of 
a parent. She was abruptly informed by 
Mr. Shard that she was not the daughter of 
Mr. and Mrs. Marston, but had merely been 
adopted by them in her infancy. Child 
though she was, the revelation was a severe 
blow to her. She was, however, too young 
to understand the full significance of the 
facts that Mr. Marston had died without 
making a will, and that she was not legally 
entitled to inherit a penny that had belonged 
to him. She did not, indeed, pay any heed 
to those considerations. The Shards were 
not unkind to her. But what, above all, 
overcame the sense of forlornness which had 
at first oppressed her was the affectionate 
kindness of the family at Enderby Court. 

Lady Jane had a long conversation with 
Mr. Shard about the girl. Mr. Shard satis- 
fied her ladyship that Lucy was the child of 
a Mrs. Smith, who had been lodging in a 
remote farmhouse in Cumberland at the time 
of her confinement. The infant was a post- 

VOL. I. 2 



1 8 MADAME LEROUX. 

humous child ; its father, an officer in the 
merchant-service, having- been lost at sea. 
Mrs. Smith had shown her landlady a news- 
paper giving an account of the wreck, and 
had appeared to be as was but natural 
plunged in a state of gloomy despondency. 
Owing to some circumstances which did not 
seem to have been very rigidly examined 
into, she was unable to keep the child with 
her. 

" The fact was, I believe, that she had to 
earn her living as a governess," said Mr. 
Shard; "and of course she could not get 
an engagement with a young infant on her 
hands. The child was left at nurse in the 
farmhouse where it had been born, and a 
small sum paid for it every month. My 
sister-in-law, the late Mrs. Marston, saw the 
child when she and Marston were spending 
a summer holiday at the farmhouse. (Mar- 
ston at that time was practising the law in 
Carlisle.) She was passionately fond of 
children, and always lamenting that she had 
no family of her own. She took a wonder- 
ful fancy to the little girl, and, in short, asked 



MADAME LEROUX. 19 

her husband's leave to adopt it. Mr. Mar- 
ston, when he had heard what I have told 
your ladyship of the child's birth, consented, 
on condition that the mother should bind 
herself to give it up entirely into his hands, 
and let him and his wife be altogether as a 
father and mother to it. Some little corre- 
spondence passed on the subject, and the 
matter was arranged. 

" I could show you Mrs. Smith's letter to 
Mr. Marston he always preserved it care- 
fully if your ladyship chose." 

Her ladyship did choose it. Indeed, she 
would have chosen always to be informed of 
every minute circumstance in her neighbour's 
lives, being charitably desirous to assist and 
amend them, and innocently convinced of 
her own power to do both, if they would but 
lay the case before her. 

" This is a hard letter," observed Lady 
Jane, when she had perused the note (it was 
little more) signed " C. Smith." " She 
seems to have had very little struggle or 
compunction in giving up her child to 
strangers." 



20 MADAME LEROUX. 

"Well, you see, my lady, she was evi- 
dently unable to bring it up herself, and she 
had all sorts of testimony of the highest kind 
to Mr. and Mrs. Marston's character and 
position. As a matter of fact, she was doing 
a very good thing for the child." 

Lady Jane thought of her own petted 
daughter, and her maternal heart yearned 
over the poor little waif. 

" Is this woman living ? " she asked. 

" We really do not know, Lady Jane. 
She may be dead, or she may have gone 
abroad, or she may have married again, for 
she was young and good-looking. The 
Marstons lost sight of her years ago, they 
told me. The truth is that poor Mrs. Mar- 
ston had no wish to keep up any connection 
with Mrs. Smith, from an uneasy fear lest 
little Lucy might some day be taken from 
her. She idolised the child." 

" She was a good woman, and had a 
mother's heart," pronounced Lady Jane, in a 
stern and magisterial tone ; the sternness 
being due to the thought in her mind that 
Mrs. Smith could not have been a good 



MADAME LEROUX. 21 



woman, and had certainly not owned a 
mother's heart. 

Lady Jane was further moved to indigna- 
tion by two circumstances : First, that Mr. 
Marston had not thought fit to tell her the 
truth about little Lucy ; and, second, that he 
had failed to make proper testamentary pro- 
vision for the child. Mr. Shard hastened to 
assure her ladyship that he fully intended to 
carry out what he doubted not were his late 
brother-in-law's intentions, and to look upon 
himself merely as the steward of Mr. Mar- 
Eton's property for Lucy's benefit. 

"You had better draw up some legal 
paper, securing her ; and you had better do 
it at once, Mr. Shard," said Lady Jane, 
peremptorily. "We have just had a solemn 
example of the precariousness of life." 

" Yes, indeed ; it is a warning I shall 
take to heart," answered Mr. Shard, piously. 
" Your ladyship would be surprised, though, 
to learn how little property poor Marston 
leaves behind him. His private affairs are 
in sad confusion. I have been astonished 
shocked, I may say to find how unmethod- 



22 MADAME LEROUX. 



ical he was in keeping an account of his> 
expenditure ; how rash he was in making 
investments ; how many bad debts he had ! 
And yet he was an excellent lawyer, Lady 
Jane. I don't know a sounder lawyer than 
he was. Ah! we are sadly weak and im- 
perfect creatures, the best of us." 

Lady Jane, in parting from Mr. Shard,, 
again laid imperative injunctions on him to 
lose no time in making some legal provision 
for Lucy. " I hope, Mr. Shard, that when I 
return from town, I shall find everything 
properly drawn out," said she. 

But she never did return from town. 
Her lifeless body was brought down, and 
laid with all pomp and circumstance in the 
vault in Westfield churchyard, where she 
had desired to be buried. But the active 
spirit of Lady Jane Enderby was known 
there no more. 





CHAPTER II. 

AFTER Lady Jane's death Lucy passed more 
time than ever at the Court. Their sorrow 
drew the two children closer together ; they 
shared the lessons of Miss Feltham, the 
governess, and, indeed, had almost all things 
in common. Mr. and Mrs. Shard, whom 
Lucy continued to call her aunt and uncle, 
encouraged in every way an intimacy likely 
to be so valuable in the future, and which 
Mr. Shard already considered useful to him- 
self as well as to his niece. 

It has been stated that the family were 
not popular with their neighbours ; but Mr. 
Shard was less generally disliked than his 
late brother-in-law. His manner had none 
of the self-sufficing reserve which had 
offended Westfield in Mr. Marston ; and the 



24 MADAME LEROUX. 



reputation for some craft and unscrupulous- 
ness, which he speedily acquired, certainly 
did not diminish the number of his clients, 
although it attracted them from a lower social 
class than that which had patronised his pre- 
decessor. Many persons were of Mr. Jack- 
son's opinion, as reported by his wife that 
if you do employ an attorney you should 
endeavour to get an out-and-outer. Mr. 
Jackson, indeed, had once still more forcibly 
expressed this view, when, being dissuaded 
from employing Lawyer Shard, on the 
ground of the latter's sharp practice, he dis- 
dainfully retorted that " he shouldn't think 
much of a chimney sweep as was afraid of 
blacking his hands." Still, even this flatter- 
ing estimate of Mr. Shard's professional 
abilities was scarcely calculated to endear 
him personally to his clients, nor to mitigate 
the jealousy excited by Lucy Marston's fami- 
liar intercourse with the family circle at the 
Court. As a matter of fact, this intimacy 
did not extend to her uncle and aunt, who 
were quite as great strangers in Sir Lionel's 
household as any other persons of their own 



MADAME LEROUX. 25 

station in Westfield. But Westfield was not 
sure of that, and Westfield had little chance 
of having its curiosity on the subject satisfied 
by Mr. Shard, since it appeared that his 
humble readiness of manner was essentially 
as uncommunicative as his late brother-in- 
law's chill reserve. There was, too, the cir- 
cumstance that as Mr. Jackson put it, with 
some implied disparagement of the late part- 
ner's legal gifts and acquirements " if old 
Marston did give you a answer, he just said 
the truth right out, plain and short ; whilst 
Shard could talk for hours and you wouldn't 
know what to believe at the hend." 

Things, however, continued to go on 
smoothly enough, until Mildred Enderby was 
fifteen, and her friend Lucy a little over 
seventeen years old. At this time an unex- 
pected event happened unexpected, at any 
rate, by the Shards. It was arranged that 
Lady Charlotte Gaunt should come to live at 
Enderby Court. 

Sir Lionel and his sister-in-law had not 
been on particularly cordial terms with each 
other during Lady Jane Enderby 's married 



26 MADAME LEROUX. 

life. But after Lady Jane's death, the Gaunts 
said how sad it was for that girl, an only child 
and an heiress, to be left without any female 
guidance, save that of old Miss Feltham, the 
governess. And, moreover, they thought 
although they did not so loudly say that it 
would be an uncommonly good thing for 
Charlotte to be installed as mistress of a 
rich man's household, and thus relieve her 
own side of the family from the necessity of 
helping out her miserably scanty income. 
For some time, however, Sir Lionel took no 
heed of hints, or even direct persuasions, on 
this score. But when Mildred was about 
fifteen, he made one of his rare journeys to 
London, and met Lady Charlotte Gaunt , 
whom he had not seen for several years. 
The result of his interviews with his sister- 
in-law was that her ladyship was invited to- 
make Enderby Court her home, and to 
assume the care of her niece, now on the 
borderland between childhood and woman- 
hood. 

On leaving Mr. Pinhorn's shop, Mrs. 
Jackson walked so briskly that she soon 



MADAME LEROUX. 27 

overtook the two young ladies of whom she 
had been talking. They had been joined by 
Miss Feltham, the governess, a grey-haired 
lady, who had been many years at the Court, 
As Mrs. Jackson was passing them with 
a little curtsey, Miss Feltham accosted 
her. 

" How do you do, Hannah ? " said she, 
kindly. 

" I'm pretty well, ma'am, thank you." 
" And how is Mr. Jackson's rheumatism ?' r 
" Jackson's much as usual, ma'am. But, 
as I tell him, he has a deal to be thankful 
for." 

" I hope he feels that, Hannah ? " 
" Well, ma'am, he do get captious about 
his joints. But as I say to him, 'Jackson,' 
I say, ' if you can't use your joints, you've got 
a good easy-chair under you, and a good fire 
to sit by, and if you was to be called away 
this night, you've made provision for them as 
you leave behind, and what a balm that is to> 
the spirit ! ' " 

Then turning to Mildred Enderby, she 
continued, " I don't ask how Sir Lionel is,. 



28 MADAME LEROUX. 

Miss, because I saw him out in the carriage 
yesterday, and I thought he looked wonder- 
ful consider! ng. " 

" My father is, I believe, really better and 
stronger than he was last year." 

" Thanks be, Miss ! I'm sure we had 
ought to pray that the Lord may preserve 
him and all the nobility with grace, wisdom, 
and understanding." Then, addressing her- 
self again to Miss Feltham, as an auditor 
more capable than the young lady, of appre- 
ciating her discourse on graver themes, she 
said, " Terrible upsetting times we do live in, 
ma'am. A fellow came canvassing Jackson 
only last week for the 'lection of a member 
of Parliament for our Division. And who 
in the world, do you suppose, Miss Feltham, 
as them Radicals want to set up ? Ruggles, 
of Nettlethwaite, the butcher's son ! " 

" Oh ! yes ; I have heard of Mr. Ruggles. 
He is a gentleman of very advanced views, 
I believe." 

" Advanced! It's all very fine for 'em 
to talk about advancing, but I want to know 
where we're a-going to ; and so does Jackson. 



MADAME LEROUX. 29- 

This fellow belongs to a a carcase, I think 
they call it." 

" Perhaps a caucus, Hannah," suggested 
Miss Feltham, smiling gravely. 

" Perhaps so, ma'am. But it might ha' 
been a carcase, for old Ruggles was a 
butcher. And a decent man he was, too. 
Catch him setting up for a member o 5 Parlia- 
ment ! However, the son has come in for 
all old Ruggles' money, and nothing will da 
but he must go spouting up and down the 
country, gabbling about the rights of the 
people, all to coax silly folks to send him up 
to Parliament so as he may show off and get 
his name printed in the newspapers. I've 
no patience ! Jackson would arguey it out 
with him. I don't see much good in argy- 
ments, myself; nor I never was one to talk 
and prate. But Jackson well, I suppose,, 
through not having the use of his joints, it 
makes him fond of talking. As for me, I 
should ha' sent the fellow off with a flea in 
his ear, and wasted no words on him. But 
Jackson, he says, in a rambling kind o' way r 
1 I've always voted blue,' he says, 'and I 



30 MADAME LEROUX. 

shall continue to do so, unless you can show 
me good reason to the contrairy.' ' Oh, but/ 
says this canvassing chap, ' the Blues '11 
bring forward a arrystocrat ; and surely you 
don't want to be represented by a arrysto- 
crat !' 'Why not?' says Jackson. 'Why,' 
says the fellow, ' because it wouldn't be a 
real representation ; because they're tyrants 
and oppressors ' begging your pardon, Miss 
Enderby 'and because the upper classes 
can't never understand the real wants of the 
people.' ' Oh, can't they ? ' says Jackson, 
* well p'raps they can't, but I was head 
groom at Lord Percy Humberstone's for 
twenty year, and I found I always knew a 
deal more about my horses than my horses 
knew about each other,' says Jackson. Well, 
the man stared like one dumbfounded. But 
I says to him, 'you mustn't mind Mr. Jack- 
son's far-fetched sayings as nobody can make 
head or tail of. But, though he may talk 
wide of the mark, you'll find you won't get 
him to vote any way but Blue.' And, of 
course, when I put it to him clear like that, 
he saw 'twas no use, and took hisself off." 



MADAME LEROUX. 31 

" But I think Mr. Jackson made a very 
good answer," exclaimed Lucy Marston. 

" You're very kind, Miss," returned Mrs. 
Jackson, with an inflexible face; ''but, of 
course, I know very well that Jackson do 
sometimes talk wide o' the mark, and gets 
hold of far-fetched sayings, as it isn't every 
one can understand what he's driving at. 
But, as I tell him, it doesn't matter; he 
hasn't got to earn his bread by 'cute talking ; 
he can pay them as makes their living by it. 
Every one to his trade." And, with a 
curtsey directed exclusively to Miss 
Enderby, Mrs. Jackson proceeded on her 
way. 

"What a tongue that woman has !" ex- 
claimed Lucy, looking after her with a 
half-amused, half- petulant expression of 
countenance. 

"Oh, poor Hannah!" said Miss Feltham. 
" Yes ; she is rather too fond of talking. 
But, my dear Lucy, she is an excellent 
creature ; she has the opinions and principles 
of a good servant of the old school. I wish 
there were more like her. Lady Jane had a 



32 MADAME LEROUX. 

great esteem for Hannah, as I remember 
very well. She is one of those persons who 
have a kind of feudal feeling towards her 
superiors.' 1 

To this no reply was made ; but Lucy's 
bright eyes sparkled, and she made a little 
impatient movement of the head. And, pre- 
sently, when she and Mildred were out of 
Miss Feltham's hearing, she whispered 

11 I don't know whether Mrs. Jackson's 
feelings are feudal or not, but I think she 
has about as little reverence in her as it is 
possible for a human being to have." 

" What, Hannah ? " cried Mildred. " I 
thought Hannah was a model of reverence ! " 

Lucy shook her head. " Her nature is 
too small and too sour," she said. " You 
might as well expect to make cream cheese 
out of buttermilk." 

Then the two girls entered the house to- 
gether, and joined Miss Feltham and Sir 
Lionel in the library, where they were accus- 
tomed to assemble during the half-hour 
before luncheon. 

Sir Lionel Enderby, second baronet of 



MADAME LEROUX. 33 

that name, was a man of slightly-built frame, 
tall and meagre, who, for the greater enjoy- 
ment of his life, had persuaded himself that 
he was a chronic invalid. This character, 
once established, enabled him to follow his 
own inclinations, which were towards seden- 
tary amusements. He collected books ; he 
even read some of them ; and had an expen- 
sive taste in bindings. He, therefore, felt 
himself fully justified in alleging his "studies" 
as an excuse for neglecting, not only fox- 
hunting, but nearly all other social duties. 

His late wife, Lady Jane, had resigned 
herself very cheerfully to living much less 
in the world than is usual for a woman of 
her rank and wealth. She had never been 
a beauty, and, therefore, w r as not tempted 
by vanity to mix with Society. She had 
but a moderate delight in the company of 
her country neighbours, and a still more 
moderate opinion of their social importance ; 
but she did enjoy reigning over the Enderby 
estates, and being incomparably the greatest 
lady of whom Westfield had any personal 
cognisance. Her rule, though absolute, was 
VOL. i. 3 



34 MADAME LEROUX. 

beneficent. She had a conscientious sense of 
her responsibilities, and was sincerely sorry 
for everybody who had the misfortune to 
differ from her. She was not a woman of 
brilliant talents ; but Westfield had never 
been known to complain on that score ; and 
the cleverest person in the world could not 
have provided sounder wine, stronger beef- 
tea, or more substantial flannel petticoats 
than the mistress of Enderby Court distri- 
buted to all who needed them. Lady Jane 
would have scorned to cheapen her charities. 
Every gift that came from her hands could 
be relied on as being thoroughly good of its 
kind. And, perhaps, it was this genuine- 
ness, quite as much as her generosity, which 
attached her humbler neighbours to her, and 
made them sincerely regret her death. For 
Westfield folks did not live by bread alone 
any more than the rest of the world. 

Sir Lionel was quite willing to continue 
his late wife's benefactions, provided he were 
not called upon to make any active exertions 
in the matter. So they fell into the hands of 
Miss Feltham and Mrs. Griffiths, the house- 



MADAME LEROUX. 35 

keeper, and the poor and the aged were not 
mulcted of their alms ; although the sick got, 
perhaps, less physic, and everybody less good 
advice, than in her ladyship's time. The 
news that Lady Charlotte Gaunt was com- 
ing to be mistress of Enderby Court was 
naturally considered very important in 
the village, and there was great curiosity to 
know whatever could be known about a 
person who was likely to be so influential 
.among them for years to come. 

Within the Court itself the interest was, 
of course, as great, and the curiosity not 
much less. Miss Feltham had not seen 
Lady Charlotte for years not since the days 
when she had been governess to Lady Jane, 
the youngest of the family and Mildred 
Jhad never seen her at all. 





CHAPTER III. 

THE person who felt most aggrieved by the 
new arrangement was Miss Feltham. The 
poor lady was deeply mortified ; but she was 
so habitually gentle, and so far from assert- 
ing any claims of her own to consideration, 
that few things would have more astonished 
Sir Lionel than to be told that Miss Feltham 
was suffering from wounded pride. It is 
certainly not a bad way of securing some 
measure of attention to our feelings to make 
the disregard of them immediately disagree- 
able to every one near us. But this was a 
method Miss Feltham had never practised. 
As she sat in the library awaiting the sum- 
mons to luncheon, and working at her em- 
broidery, just as she had done daily for so 
many years, she was thinking, with mingled 
[36] 



MADAME LEROUX. 37 

regret, apprehension, and bitterness, of the 
deceased Lady Jane, the coming Lady Char- 
lotte, and the prospect of being superseded 
.and thrust aside from the place she had 
-quietly occupied since the death of Sir 
Lionel Enderby's wife. 

Sir Lionel, leaning back in his large easy- 
chair, was making notes with a pencil on the 
margin of a bookseller's catalogue received 
that morning. Mildred was standing in the 
embrasure of a window, playing with a pet 
spaniel, which was too fat and too lazy to do 
more than languidly wag his tail in acknow- 
ledgment of her caresses ; and Lucy Mar- 
ston had perched herself on the library steps 
with a book, which, apparently, absorbed all 
her attention. 

At length Sir Lionel dropped the cata- 
logue which he had been holding before his 
face, and gave to view a pale countenance, 
with a straight nose, light blue eyes, and thin 
grey hair, brushed back from a high, narrow, 
and retreating forehead. His mouth, uncon- 
cealed by beard or moustache, had an odd 
little querulous pucker in it when shut, as 



3 8 MADAME LEROUX. 



though a disagreeable effort were necessary 
to bring the lips together. But when he 
smiled, its expression was not without 
sweetness. 

"Where is Lucy didn't she come in 
with you ? " he asked, looking first at Miss 
Feltham and then at his daughter. 

"Yes, Sir Lionel, she did," returned 
Miss Feltham. " There she is." 

" Where ? " inquired Sir Lionel, looking 
round the room as far as his range of vision 
extended. But his range of vision did not 
comprise the step-ladder on which Lucy had 
seated herself, for the sufficient reason that it 
was behind his chair. 

" Lucy ! " cried Mildred. " Come down 
and show yourself! Of course, you're full 
fathom five deep in some stupid book or 
other." 

"No, I'm not," protested Lucy. "At 
all events, not so deep but that I heard every 
word you have all been saying." 

Whereat Mildred laughed, a fresh child- 
like laugh, and answered, " Not a bit of it ! 
Father was asking if you had been brought 



MADAME LEROUX. 39 

back to luncheon, and where you were ; and 
you didn't hear a syllable ! " 

Lucy sprang down, and came forward, 
book in hand, to where Sir Lionel could see 
her. " I beg your pardon, Sir Lionel," she 
said. " Did you speak to me ? " 

" No, my dear. Don't disturb yourself. 
Enjoy your book. What is it ? " 

Lucy showed him the volume in her 
hand. 

"H'm! Schiller. The ballads, eh? I 
don't read German." 

" Yes, Sir Lionel ; the ballads." 

" Ha ! Have you looked at the latest 
criticism on Schiller in the Areopagus ? " 

" No." 

" Ah, it's very clever very well worth 
reading. They demolish Schiller as a great 
poet, that is to say. You had better look at 
it." 

" I'm afraid I think I like Schiller best 
undemolished," answered Lucy, with a de- 
precating little smile. 

" Ay, ay, but that's weak, Lucy. The 
student must seek for truth above all things. 



40 MADAME LEROVX. 

He should preserve that a that serene 
balance of the faculties which raises him 
which buoys him up, as it were into the 
intellectual empyrean. Miss Feltham, it is 
now nearly six minutes past two ! And 
yesterday also luncheon was between four 
and five minutes late. The cook must be 
told that this will not do. Nothing is worse 
than unpunctuality in serving meals. If I 
were a man in strong health, who simply felt 
hungry, it would be irritating enough. But 
for a feeble digestion like mine, it is very 
serious. It upsets me altogether. I really 
Oh ! luncheon at last ! Come along, Miss 
Feltham. Warner" (to the butler) "you 
will beg Mrs. Griffiths to be good enough to 
see that this kind of thing does not happen 
again. The consequences to my health 
might be extremely grave. Eh ? The 
library time-piece is fast ? Then why is it 
allowed to be fast ? It is somebody's busi- 
ness to regulate it, I presume. I set my 
watch by it this morning ; and thus, you see, 
everything is thrown out! Miss Feltham, I 
recommend you to try these salmon cutlets. 



MADAME LEROUX. 41 

It is a remarkable thing, and shows the 
peculiarity of my case, that I never find 
salmon, in the form of cutlets, disagree with 
me : which is fortunate, as I am particularly 
fond of it cooked in that way. No ; no 
sherry, Warner. Give me some dry cham- 
pagne. I shall touch no other wine to-day. 
I must be a little careful." 

Luncheon was nearly over, when a 
servant brought in an envelope which he 
handed to the butler, who gravely presented 
it to Miss Feltham. She glanced at it, and 
looked across the table at Sir Lionel. " A 
note, eh ? " said the latter, " for me ? If you 
will be good enough to keep it for the 
present, I will open it in the library by and 
by, if you please." 

" It is a telegram, Sir Lionel." 

"Oh! A telegram? Well, I believe I 
may venture to open it at once. It is not as 
though it had arrived before luncheon. Bring 
it to me, Warner. I suppose, Miss Feltham, 
that this is from Lady Charlotte/' 

It was from Lady Charlotte, and an- 
nounced her arrival at Enderby Court for 



42 MADAME LEROUX. 

the following day ; that is to say, a week 
sooner than she had been expected. 

Lady Charlotte seemed to have a taste 
for telegraphing, even although there were 
nothing so pressing in her missives but that 
they might have been communicated by the 
post. Miss Feltham was made nervous by 
this shower of telegrams, but Sir Lionel 
seemed rather to enjoy the arrival of these 
frequent messages. The slight excitement 
of reading them amused him, and it was an 
excitement which cost him nothing. No 
trouble to himself could result from them. 
Lady Charlotte would never, he was well 
persuaded, think of anything so preposterous 
as requiring him to take active exertion of 
mind or body on her behalf. 

"Well, Miss Feltham," he said, "Mrs. 
Griffiths must be told to have Lady Char- 
lotte's apartments prepared for to-morrow 
evening. Your aunt will be here to dinner 
to-morrow, Mildred." 

" How she changes her mind ! " exclaimed 
Mildred. " It was settled that she was not 
to come before Wednesday." 



MADAME LEROUX. 45, 



" Circumstances have changed, my dear ;; 
and, like a wise woman, she has changed her 
mind in accordance with them. Lord and 
Lady Grimstock are going down to the 
country sooner than was expected, and no 
doubt their house in town will be shut up." 

" I think they ought to have considered 
that they might inconvenience other people 
before they changed all the arrangements at 



a moment's notice." 



" They know, I presume, that the arrival 
of one guest at Enderby Court can scarcely 
cause us any inconvenience," replied Sir 
Lionel, with complacent jocularity. " Mrs, 
Griffiths is pretty sure to have something in 
the larder ; and I believe she will have 
no difficulty in furnishing a pair of clean 
sheets." 

" Oh, of course, father, I wasn't thinking 
of that sort of thing. Of course, there are 
always plenty of dinners and beds ! " 

" Dinners and beds and such matters are 
not quite so abundant, of course, everywhere 
as at Enderby Court, my dear Mildred, " 
observed Miss Feltham. " But, naturally r 



44 MADAME LEROUX. 

Lady Charlotte knows all about the house- 
hold she is coming to." 

Miss Feltham spoke very gently; but it 
cannot be denied that there was a faint spice 
of malice in her little speech for the house 
of Grimstock was not unacquainted with 
poverty and until the marriage of the pre- 
sent Earl, who had won a wife with some 
fortune, they had had to struggle with debt 
and difficulty. 

" Tell me something about Aunt Char- 
lotte, father," said Mildred. "What is she 
like?" 

" Like ? Oh a she has been very 
handsome, you know ; quite a beauty." 

" Yes ; I know. But now what is she 
like now ? " 

" Well, she is tall, like your dear mother. 
All the Gaunts are tall. And she is fair, I 
think. Yes ; she would be called fair. And 
and really, Mildred, you must not besiege 
me with questions. You will see her to- 
morrow. I must have absolute repose of 
mind for half-an-hour after luncheon, or I 
shall be quite upset." 



MADAME LEROUX. 45 

Upon this Sir Lionel withdrew to the 
library, and the household understood per- 
fectly well that he was not to be disturbed 
on any pretext until he should ring his bell. 

Miss Feltham and the two girls repaired 
to the schoolroom, which was their favourite 
sitting-room. It had none of the bare, bleak 
aspect which such an apartment often wears. 
One side of it was lined with bookshelves, 
It contained an excellent pianoforte. A few 
flower paintings by Miss Feltham made 
agreeable islands of colour on the grey wall- 
paper. The girls had collected there, by 
degrees, various articles of furniture, more or 
less pretty and luxurious. And Miss Felt- 
ham's special chair, with its delicate chintz 
cushions, was almost as comfortable, although 
not so stately, as Sir Lionel's in the library. 

Mildred nestled herself down on a stool 
close to the governess's knee, and said, coax- 
ingly, " Now, you tell me about Aunt Char- 
lotte, Elfy dear!" (Elfy was a pet name 
which had originated in Mildred's attempts 
to say " Feltham," when she was barely four 
years old.) "And, please, don't begin by 



46 MADAME LEROUX. 

saying that Aunt Charlotte was a beauty 
once upon a time, because I seem to have 
heard that ever since I could walk and talk." 

Miss Feltham remained silent for a 
minute, and then answered hesitatingly, "It 
is so long so many, many years since I 
saw Lady Charlotte, my dear." 

Lucy Marston rose up quietly, and went 
towards the door. 

" Where are you off to, Lucy ? " cried 
Mildred. 

" Only to get some fresh flowers for our 
big bowl. Don't you see those are nearly 
all withered ? " And Lucy slipped out of 
the room. 

Mildred was about to call her back, but 
Miss Feltham checked her. " Lucy is quite 
right," she said. " She has too much deli- 
cacy of feeling to listen to what I might say 
to you about your aunt. Not that there are 
any secrets at least, none that I know," 
added Miss Feltham, under her breath. 

"Secrets!" echoed Mildred. "Well, I 
suppose not ! But Lucy is one of us as 
much as you are ! 



MADAME LEROUX. 4? 



A slight flush tinged the governess's pale 
face as she answered, " You must be pre- 
pared, my dear, for Lady Charlotte Gaunt's 
taking rather a different view from yours, 
both of Lucy Marston and myself." 

" Different ! A different view ! How 
-different ? " 

" My dear, it would be only natural, you 
know, if she did." 

Mildred pondered for a minute or two, 
and then asked, " Is Aunt Charlotte disagree- 
able, Elfy?" 

The question was put so suddenly and 
directly as quite to startle Miss Feltham, 
who, on her side, had been meditating 
silently. " What who who says so ? " she 
stammered. 

" I think," returned Mildred, " that if she 
does not very soon love both you and Lucy 
she must be very disagreeable indeed." 

Miss Feltham was evidently flurried out 
-of her usual soft composure of manner. She 
urged on Mildred the duty of receiving her 
aunt with proper respect, and of cherishing 
only the kindest thoughts of her. But all 



4 8 



MADAME LEROUX. 



Miss Feltham's desire and it was sincere 
to make her think dutifully and favourably 
of her aunt, could not efface Mildred's strong 
impression that the governess herself re- 
garded Lady Charlotte with fear, and with 
something like repulsion. 




CHAPTER IV. 

THE next morning Sir Lionel drove out 
alone with his daughter he never allowed 
more than one person to accompany him in 
his drives ; alleging that the effort of con- 
versing with any one on the opposite seat 
was distressing to him and Lucy was left to 
spend the forenoon with Miss Feltham. 

Lucy had announced her intention of 
going home that evening. Mildred had 
exclaimed at first, " Oh ! you mustn't go 
away to-night. You must stay and see Aunt 
Charlotte." 

But when Lucy replied that Lady Char- 
lotte would naturally prefer to have her first 
evening alone with the family, and would not 
like to have a stranger thrust upon her in the 
moment of her arrival, Mildred did not in- 
VOL. i. [ 49 ] 4 



50 MADAME LEROUX. 



sist, as she might have done before her con- 
versation with Miss Feltham ; although she 
had by no means familiarised herself with, 
the idea that Lucy could be looked on as a- 
stranger by any inmate of Enderby Court. 

Miss Feltham, as she sat in the school- 
room working at her embroidery, was think- 
ing of the past. Memories which had long 
lain dormant revived. Lady Charlotte had 
entirely passed out of her life for many years ; 
but, in the prospect of seeing her once more, 
Miss Feltham seemed to live over again the 
days when she had been governess to Lady 
Jane Gaunt, and when the elder sister had 
been the imperious and idolised beauty, to- 
whose supposed advantage the other mem- 
bers of the family were sacrificed so far as 
it was in the power of her doating mother to 
sacrifice them. So full was Miss Feltham's 
mind of these thronging recollections, that 
they overflowed at her lips. " It wz//seem 
strange to meet Lady Charlotte again ! " she 
exclaimed. 

Lucy Marston, who was copying some 
passages for Sir Lionel's commonplace book,. 



MADAME LEROUX. 5! 

looked up from her book, and said, " You 
have not seen her for a long time ? " 

" Not for more than eighteen years. She 
was very handsome, but she never had the 
charm at least, not to me of dear Lady 
Jane. There never was anyone like Lady 
Jane," said the governess, with genuine 
feeling. 

" Except Mildred ! " 

" Except ah, well, of course, Mildred is 
little more than a child. But I am in great 
hopes that she may grow up to be such 
another woman as her mother." 

There was a silence, during which Lucy 
turned over the leaves of her book, and made 
one or two extracts, and Miss Feltham plied 
her needle. 

Then the latter, evidently pursuing her 
previous train of thought, said, "It does 
seem singular that she should never have 
married ; so undoubtedly handsome, and so 
much admired as she was ! I suppose she 
was too proud, and looked too high. Al- 
though at one time I thought and I wasn't 
the only one to fancy it that she had an 



52 MADAME LEROUX. 

attachment which certainly could not be 
called ambitious." 

Lucy pushed her book a little to one side 
and raised her head to listen, being attracted 
by the prospect of a love-story. 

And by degrees Miss Feltham related 
how there had been a bright, good-hurnoured, 
high-spirited young fellow, a school-friend of 
her brother's, who was supposed to have 
found favour in the eyes of the haughty and 
imperious Lady Charlotte Gaunt. 

" He was pleasant and lively enough, my 
dear ; but nothing very special nothing that 
you would have thought likely to attract such 
a person as Lady Charlotte, who was used to 
the very highest people. For he came of a 
quite middle-class family, and was not dis- 
tinguished in any way. Sometimes I think 
the charm was just his careless high spirits, 
and his easy way of treating all the family as 
though he had known them all his life. He 
was never in the least forward or impudent. 
He was a gentleman in manners and edu- 
cation, if not by birth. Only you saw in a 
moment that he stood in awe of nobody. 



MADAME LEROUX. 53 

And then, to be sure, Lady Charlotte would 
naturally begin with a prejudice in favour of 
any one whom Mr. Hubert Gaunt liked. 
This brother was the only person who seemed 
to have much influence over her,; for she 
certainly was most tremendously self-willed 
and scornful. But if there was any reverence 
in her nature, I think Mr. Hubert was the 
only one who called it forth. He was deeply 
religious. All the Gauntswere sound Church 
people ; but Hubert was a kind of saint. He 
took Holy Orders, and every one said he 
would be a shining light and a pillar of the 
Church. But he was cut off in the 
prime of his early manhood, by a putrid 
fever, which he caught in visiting the sick 
poor." 

" But how was it about Lady Charlotte's 
attachment ? " asked Lucy. These rambling 
reminiscences did not interest her. She 
wanted the love-story. " Was the gentle- 
man very much in love with her ? " 

" Oh, I don't know that there was an 
attachment at all ! I should be sorry to 
assert it. I know nothing positive," said 



54 MADAME LEROUX. 

Miss Feltham, hastily. And then she fell 
silent, with a disturbed face. 

Lucy, after waiting a moment, returned 
to her occupation. But presently Miss Fel- 
tham's impulse to speak of the old memories 
and the old feelings which were so unwontedly 
stirred within her overcame her habitual 
timid reticence, and she began again. This 
time Lucy was careful not to startle her 
with questions, but let her reminiscences 
flow on uninterruptedly in their own discur- 
sive fashion. 

" Certainly I cannot say that I ever 
thought young Rushmere cared half as much 
about Lady Charlotte as she cared for him 
which seems very extraordinary when one 
comes to think of it all, for she was 
high above him in every way ; and, as for 
beauty she was acknowledged to be the 
most beautiful girl in society the year she 
was presented, and for several seasons after- 
wards." 

" People don't always fall in love with the 
most beautiful women they see," said Lucy, 
softly. 



MADAME LEROUX. 55 



" No ; I suppose not. Besides, one 
woman seems the most beautiful to this 
person, and another to that. Now, I never 
admired Miss Graham myself. But she was 
admired. Gentlemen admired her. I always 
believed in my own mind that Mr. Rushmere 
admired her very much." 

" I suppose she was a friend of Lady 
Charlotte's ? " ventured Lucy, cautiously. 

" Well yes ; in a way. She was a 
humble sort of companion she was an 
-orphan. I have an idea that she was the 
child of a bailiff or steward, or some one who 
had been employed by my lord on his pro- 
perty in the north of England. However 
that may be, I found her in the family 
when I first went there as governess to Lady 
Jane ; and, certainly, she was very clever, 
and had a good many accomplishments. 
She had been at school in Paris, and 
spoke French admirably; indeed, she had 
a great gift for languages. I never knew 
any one with the same facility except Jrour- 
self, Lucy." 

As she spoke, Lucy raised her eyes and 



56 MADAME LEROUX. 

met those of Miss Feltham fixed upon her 
with an odd, puzzled look, 

" It's very singular," said the latter. 
" There must be some association of ideas 
which seems to have just flashed on me 
and escaped. I have lost a link some- 
where. What could I have been going 
to say ? Or was it only some recollec- 
tion which I had nearly seized, and 
which went out like a spark into the 
darkness?" 

All this she. said musingly, and still 
looking at the young girl, who had now 
turned her eyes on to the slips of paper 
which she was numbering and laying in 
order. 

" Then did Miss Graham teach French 
since she knew it so well ? " said Lucy, com- 
posedly ; and chiefly with a view to draw on 
Miss Feltham to talk more. 

" What, at Lady Grimstock's ? Oh, dear 
no. She was very young : several years 
yourtger than Lady Charlotte. No ; she was 
just a demoiselle de compagnie, and was Lady 
Charlotte's special prottgte. I did not like her y 



MADAME LEROUX. 57 

I confess. I never could like her," pursued 
Miss Feltham, thoughtfully. " I wonder if I 
did her injustice ! " 

" No ! " answered Lucy, boldly. Then, 
with an affectionate smile, she added, " I 
don't know anything about Miss Graham, but 
I knowjy^." 

" Ah, my dear, that is very kind. But I 
may have been uncharitable ; perhaps more 
then than I should be now. Yet I must 
confess that I thought she set herself ta 
attract Mr. Hubert Gaunt in a way which 
well, perhaps I was wrong, and yet Lady 
Grimstock was uneasy about it at one time 
I know she was. Only, as Lady Charlotte 
chose to take her under her especial 
patronage, nobody dared to hint a word 
against her." 

" It seems to have been a very compli- 
cated position ! " exclaimed Lucy. " It re- 
minds me of that song of Heine's, where 
they are all at cross purposes, loving the 
wrong people." 

" Oh, my dear, don't quote Heine ! A 
dangerous writer ! And yet," she added, 



5 8 MADAME LEROUX, 

under her breath, " it was very like that. 
Der Andre liebt eine Andre ! " 

"Well, and what was the end of it all ?" 
asked Lucy, after a somewhat prolonged 
silence. 

" The end of it ? " 

" What became of Mr. Rushmere ? " 

" Oh, the end of it, as far as he was con- 
cerned, was that he was ordered away rather 
suddenly to join his regiment in India, and he 
dropped out of sight. I believe there came a 
rumour very shortly that he had been badly 
injured when tiger-shooting, and obliged to 
leave the army. But whether any of the 
Gaunt family knew the particulars or not, 
they were too full of their own trouble at the 
time to give much thought to a stranger ; for 
Mr. Hubert fell ill and died of fever, as I 
told you. It was a great blow to them all. 
But Lady Charlotte seemed to feel it more 
than any one. She was a changed woman 
.after her brother's death altogether broken 
.down." 

" And Miss Graham?" 

" Miss Graham fell into ill health, and 



MADAME LEROUX. 59 



went away to some distant kinsfolk in 
Northumberland or Scotland, I never knew 
exactly where it was, but I remember that 
Lady Charlotte was interested in her to the 
last, and made arrangements for her journey, 
and all that. Then the next year Lady Jane 
was presented, and came out in society ; my 
services were wanted no longer, and I got 
another situation. It was years before I saw 
any of them again." 

" Not until you came here to educate 
Mildred?" 

" Not until then. But dear Lady Jane 
had not lost sight of me. She always wrote 
now and then. Ah, there never was such a 
staunch constant friend as she was ! " Then, 
looking round the room with eyes brimful of 
tears, she murmured, " Dear old schoolroom, 
I have been very happy here." 

The words were not necessarily sad, but 
the tone in which they were uttered gave 
them almost the significance of a farewell. 
There was a feeling in Lucy's heart, also, 
that a chapter of her young life was being 
^closed. To-morrow a new reign would 



60 MADAME LEROUX. 

begin, and a change that would affect them 
all. And whether the change were for good 
or ill, the old conditions could return never* 
never more. 

At seventeen that is not so mournful a 
thought as at fifty-five. Neither was Lucy 
so depressed as Miss Feltham. Still, the 
girl was conscious of a vague feeling of ap- 
prehension ; and the future looked rather 
blank. She finished her task for Sir Lionel 
in silence, and then taking the volume from 
which she had been copying in her hand, 
she said playfully, " You will bear witness, 
Miss Feltham, that I am now going to put 
my book back in its place on the library 
shelf." 

' 'Yes, my dear; you were always atten- 
tive to rules. I wish dear Mildred were as 
methodical." 

" And I may as well say good-bye now, 
Miss Feltham. I don't think Sir Lionel will 
want me ; because there will be no time 
before luncheon, and he never works after 
it. So I will just walk home. I shall be in 
time for their early dinner." 



MADAME LEROUX. 61 

" Is there anything you want carried to 
Mr. Shard's?" 

" Nothing more than I can carry myself 
in my bag. Good-bye, dear Miss Feltham." 

" Good-bye, my dear." Then the gover- 
ness kissed the girl's forehead, and said, 
" You have been a very good, sweet pupil ; 
and a pupil to be proud of, Lucy." 

Again there was a tone of more solemn 
farewell than the occasion seemed to require. 
Lucy Marston had gone backwards and for- 
wards a score of times between her uncle's 
house and the Court without even saying 
11 Good-bye." But now Miss Feltham 
seemed, by her parting words, to recognise 
that the old relations between them had 
come to an end. 

Lucy arrived at Shard's house about half- 
an-hour before the hour of their early dinner. 
She was not received with any flattering 
warmth. Her uncle was employing that 
time of leisure in reading the newspaper ; 
and her aunt repeated over and over again 
that she had not expected to see her before 
the end of the month, and that she could not 



62 MADAME LEROUX. 

comprehend why in the world she had left 
the Court so much sooner than had been 
intended. 

All this was uttered in a querulous tone ; 
not that Mrs. Shard felt herself especially 
aggrieved by Lucy's appearance, but her 
habitual manner was that of a person who, 
having long struggled under a cruelly heavy 
burthen, was now called upon to endure the 
last straw. 

" I hope it is not inconvenient to you, 
Aunt Sarah, but a telegram came from Lady 
Charlotte, announcing her arrival for this 
evening, and I thought she might consider 
it intrusive, if I thrust myself among them in 
the first moment of her arrival" 

" Why, I never heard of such a thing, 
Lucy ! Never ! To make a stranger of 
yourself in that way, when Enderby Court 
has been more your home than this has, for 
years and years ! It's almost like flying in 
the face of Providence ! " 

" But you know, Aunt Sarah, I am not 
really one of the family. I ought not to* 
encroach on their kindness." 



MADAME LEROUX. 65; 

At this point Mr. Shard looked up from 
his newspaper, and, without any preliminary 
salutation, inquired whether Sir Lionel, or 
any of the family, had hinted a wish to get 
rid of her ; and being answered that, on the 
contrary, she had been pressed to stay, and 
that Sir Lionel had made her promise to re- 
turn to the Court in good time on the follow- 
ing day, to proceed with some work she was 
doing for him, Mr. Shard nodded, said, "All 
right," and resumed reading an article on the 
state of the Money Market, without taking, 
any notice of her. 

The house now inhabited by Mr. and 
Mrs. Shard had been the house of Mr. and 
Mrs. Marston. But the Shards' mode of life 
was very different from that of their prede- 
cessors. Mrs. Shard had been so long sub- 
jected to pinching poverty, that she looked 
upon all expenditure beyond the merest 
necessaries as dangerous extravagance ; while 
her husband, so long as his bodily needs 
were satisfactorily provided for, contented 
himself very well without the embellishments 
of life. In Mrs. Marston's time the draw- 



'64 MADAME LEROUX. 

ing-room had been made pretty, and was 
daily occupied. It was now shut up, and 
only opened to be cleaned ; or on Sunday 
afternoons in the summer time, when Mrs. 
Shard sometimes sat there with a big family 
Bible open on the table before her. The 
dining-parlour was used all day as the one 
sitting-room, Mr. Shard, when he desired 
privacy, withdrawing to a small room behind 
the office, where he had a few law books, 
and a fire-proof safe let into the wall. The 
dining-room was not large, and its atmo- 
sphere would have been improved by the 
more frequent admission of fresh air, and its 
.appearance by the removal of the only adorn- 
ments which Mrs. Shard had contributed to 
its furniture. These consisted in rectangular 
pieces of a coarse, whitey-brown material, 
which, in their original condition, must have 
looked liked the towels supplied to a peni- 
tentiary, but which Mrs. Shard had em- 
broidered with worsted of dingy colours, and 
had spread over the backs of chairs and on 
the cushions of a small settee which stood in 
the window. 



MADAME LEROUX. 65 

All these things had doubtless undergone 
no change since Lucy had last seen them, 
little over a fortnight ago, yet they now 
struck her as being more sordid, gloomy, and 
vulgar. The truth was that she was looking 
at them with different eyes. The thought 
scarcely articulate, but still active in her 
mind that it might henceforth be her lot to 
live entirely among these surroundings, and 
to endure Aunt Sarah's daily and hourly 
companionship, made the demeanour of Mr. 
and Mrs. Shard appear to her unusually dis- 
agreeable ; all their defects were suddenly 
intensified, like objects seen through a 
powerful magnifying glass. Mrs. Shard's 
black net cap which she wore because it 
was more economical than a white one Mr. 
Shard's coarse mouth, the puckers round his 
eyes, and his untidy, lank, grizzled hair, 
much in need of the shears, assumed a new 
hideousness. Little peculiarities and vul- 
garities which, last week, would have made 
her smile, now came very near to making her 
shudder. 

These emotions, however, were naturally 

VOL. I. 5 



66 MADAME LEROUX, 

quite unsuspected by the Shards. Lucy was 
never very talkative in their company, and 
neither of them had a sufficiently strong 
interest in her to observe that her quietude 
to-day was a different quietude from that to 
which they were accustomed. 

Mr. Shard, for his part, gave his un- 
divided attention to his dinner. When that 
was finished, and a tumbler full of cold gin 
and water had been placed on a little table 
at his elbow, he began to question Lucy in a 
high-pitched squeaky voice, which contrasted 
oddly with his tall, large -jointed person. 
Why was Lady Charlotte to arrive earlier 
than had been expected ? Was Sir Lionel 
put out about it ? Did Miss Enderby seem 
pleased at the idea of her aunt's coming f 
and so forth. Then, with a cunning look 
out of his half-closed eyes, what sort of a 
report did Miss Feltham give of Lady Char- 
lotte Gaunt ? 

''What sort of report ? " repeated Lucy r 
hesitatingly. 

" Oh, I know she lived governess at the 
Countess of Grimstock's. That I know for 



MADAME LEROUX. 67 

a fact. So she must know all about this 
Lady Charlotte." 

" She was not Lady Charlotte's gover- 
ness," answered Lucy. " Her pupil was 
Lady Jane, who was several years younger 
than her sister." 

" Oh ! ah ! yes ; I see. This one would 
be out of the schoolroom already. Still, 
living in the same house with people, you 
can always find out a great deal about them. 
Does she say, now, whether this lady is like 
her sister ? " 

" I should imagine not. Lady Charlotte 
was a great beauty, they say." 

" Ah ! I think I've heard so. Well, Lady 
Jane Enderby wasn't a beauty, certainly ! " 

Here Mr. Shard indulged in a kind of 
voiceless chuckle. But, suddenly checking 
it, he added, gravely, "A most excellent 
lady ! Truly pious. * We ne'er shall look 
upon her like again.' " 

At the word "pious " Mrs. Shard uttered 
a mournful sound, with closed lips, which 
might best be described, perhaps, as a mild 
and long-drawn moo. She was, however, 



68 MADAME LEROUX. 

very far from intending to suggest anything 
ludicrous ; and merely meant to convey her 
profound sense of Lady Jane Enderby's 
piety. 

" But I wasn't thinking only of looks," 
pursued Mr. Shard. " I wanted to know if 
you had picked up anything about this one's 
ways and temper, and likes and dislikes. 
Useful knowledge, Lucy ; useful know- 
ledge ! And Miss Feltham might impart a 
good deal of it, if she would, I'd lay a 
wager." 

" Miss Feltham has not even seen Lady 
Charlotte Gaunt for eighteen years," an- 
swered Lucy coldly. She was well resolved 
not to betray a word of Miss Feltham 's 
confidence ; and Mr. Shard's remarks dis- 
gusted her unspeakably. 

" I cant think why Lucy came off in that 
way ! " put in Mrs. Shard, shaking her head 
over the stocking she was darning. "It 
looks so strange ! Just as if she wasn't fit 
company for Lady Charlotte. I had no idea 
she'd leave the Court before the end of the 
month ; not the least idea of it." 



MADAME LEROUX. 69 

" You ' can't think ? ' You've been told 
why she came away ! " rejoined her husband 
testily. 

Then turning to Lucy, " I dare say you 
were right. You know them, or ought to, 
by this time. And if Miss Feltham is close 
I don't blame her for it. Of course she 
wants to keep her place, and it's dangerous 
to tattle why, you're 'cute enough to find out 
how the land lies for yourself. You've got 
the length of Sir Lionel's foot anyway. And 
that's a great thing. And Miss Enderby is 
devoted to you ; and that's a greater. It's 
my belief," concluded Mr. Shard, in a tone 
meant to be complimentary and encouraging, 
" that if you play your cards commonly well, 
you'll come round Lady Charlotte as well as 
the rest of 'em." 

This and similar speeches had the effect, 
unforeseen, and indeed unimaginable, by Mr. 
Shard, of making Lucy, for the first time 
in her life, shrink from returning to Enderby 
Court. 

By degrees the first tingling sensation of 
surprise, and shame, and indignation wore 



70 MADAME LEROUX. 

off. But there remained a heavy sense of 
nervous depression, which not even a night's 
sleep the restorative sleep of youth and 
health could entirely remove. And she 
lingered so long the next morning, under the 
pretext of setting her clothes in order, in 
her own room, that Mildred grew tired of 
waiting for her return to Enderby Court, and 
appeared herself at Mr. Shard's house in 
quest of her. 

Mrs. Shard hastened upstairs to the bed- 
room, where Lucy was listlessly looking 
through drawers, and hanging up dresses, 
and breaking off at intervals to stare vaguely 
out of the window. 

" Well, Lucy, perhaps another time you 
may not think me so foolish. I said I could 
not understand why you left the Court in that 
abrupt way, and now here's Miss Enderby 
come for you herself ! " 

Mrs. Shard supported herself against the 
mantelpiece, and panted laboriously. Her 
thin form, deeply-sunken eyes, and pale 
yellow skin gave her a painful aspect of ill- 
health. And yet she never behaved 'as an 



MADAME LEROUX. 7 1 



invalid, and was always active in her house- 
hold occupations. 

" I am very sorry you should have had 
to run upstairs, Aunt Sarah," said Lucy, 
pushing forward a chair. " Pray sit 
down a moment ! You have hurried too 
much/' 

" Miss Enderby is in the drawing-room, 
and the pony-carriage is at the gate," 
answered Mrs. Shard, reproachfully. 

Lucy ran down the stairs, and into the 
drawing-room. It was at the back of the 
house, and opened on to a garden which, in 
Mrs. Mars ton's time, had been famous for its 
standard roses, but which now produced little 
besides cabbages and onions. The disused 
room struck chill and damp. The furniture 
was swathed in coarse cotton wrapping ; and 
a stiff, wiry, yellow gauze veiled the long 
mirror at the end of the room opposite to the 
window. Mildred was standing forlornly in 
the middle of the floor, looking out at the 
cabbages, and at a collection of Mr. Shard's 
flannel shirts drying on a line at the bottom 
of the garden. 



72 MADAME LEROUX. 



" Oh, Mildred, dear!" exclaimed Lucy r 
kissing the girl's fair fresh cheek. 

" And oh, Lucy, dear! What a nice 
young person you are, not to have come near 
us all this morning ! I suppose if I had not 
appeared to fetch you, you would never have 
returned at all ! " 

" I was just getting ready to come, dear," 
answered Lucy. 

" Put your hat on. I got leave to drive 
down to fetch you, and orders to bring you 
back by force if necessary. Do make 
haste ! " 

" That's what I told her, Miss Enderby," 
said Mrs. Shard, who had now entered the 
room. " I mentioned that the carnage was 
at the gate, and that the groom was holding 
the ponies' heads." Then as soon as Lucy 
had gone away to make ready for the drive, 
Mrs. Shard said, " I don't know whether you 
would condescend to take any refreshment. 
Miss Enderby, would you ? " 

11 Oh, thank you so much," answered 
Mildred, blushing violently at being asked 
to " condescend ; " " but I really don't want 



MADAME LEROUX. 73: 



anything. It is very kind of you, indeed, to 
offer it. I hope you will forgive me for 
disturbing you at this hour." 

" We consider it an honour, Miss En- 
derby Mr. Shard and myself. I'm only- 
sorry you should have had the trouble of 
coming for Lucy. I said to Mr. Shard, 
'Jacob,' I said- Oh, here is Mr. Shard." 

There was Mr. Shard, who had hurried 
from the office, profuse in bows, welcomes,, 
apologies, and inquiries all in a breath. 

" I hope I see you well, Miss Enderby ; 
and Sir Lionel ? It is most kind of you to 
come for Lucy. You will understand that a 
natural delicacy of feeling made her reluctant 

to intrude I trust her ladyship is none 

the worse for her journey ? It must be a 
heartfelt pleasure to you, indeed, to have the 
society of so near a relative of your honoured 
mother. Ah, dear me, dear me, what an 
admirable lady she was ! We ne'er shall 
look upon her like again, Miss Enderby. 
Indeed, I made that very remark, in those 
very words, to my wife and niece yesterday,, 
as Lucy can tell you. Well well, we can't 



74 MADAME LEROUX. 

help our feelings. I've no doubt Lady 
Charlotte would be the first to appreciate 
ithem. Here is Lucy. Now, I won't venture 
to detain you. I'm a plain unpolished man, 
but I believe I am right in thinking it 
the best politeness to speed the parting 
guest. I am sure you don't want to waste 
any more time here. Allow me, Miss 
Enderby." 

Mr. Shard conducted Mildred very shy 
.and shame-faced under all this eloquence 
to the carriage, and waited bare-headed in 
the sunshine until the grey-haired groom had 
given the reins to his young mistress and 
mounted to his place behind her. 

"Good-bye, my dear Lucy! good-bye, 
good-bye ! " 

Mr. Shard continued to bow and to wave 
his hand until the carriage was lost to sight 
at a bend in the road ; when, with an abrupt 
and complete change of demeanour, he 
turned round, thrust his hands into his 
pockets, and, softly whistling, walked back 
io the office. 



CHAPTER V. 

IT was with the sensation of having 
obtained a reprieve, that, on entering the 
library at Enderby Court, Lucy Marston 
found its only occupants to be Sir Lionel and 
Miss Feltham. She was half ashamed of her 
own cowardice. And yet it was a relief to 
find everything as usual ; everything peace- 
ful, home-like, and familiar. The governess 
sat in her accustomed corner with her 
embroidery ; and Sir Lionel was seated at 
his own special writing- table, which was 
strewn with books and papers in a dis- 
orderly fashion. 

Sir Lionel's "studies" were not confined 

to any one branch of learning or literature. 

Indeed, the "study" in hand might usually 

be ascertained by knowing what was the 

[ 75 ] 



76 MADAME LEROUX, 



latest addition to his library in the shape of a 
rare or costly work. A remarkably fine copy 
of Spence's " Polymetis " was among his 
recent acquisitions ; and Sir Lionel (tempted 
by that facile and seductive form of literature 
which consists in registering other people's 
utterances on the subject of somebody else's- 
work) was about comparing and collating a 
variety of passages relating to sculpture from 
Latin authors. These he intended to throw 
together into an erudite article for a local 
antiquarian magazine printed in the county 
town. But he had hitherto got no farther 
than taking down several volumes, and 
making a few pencil-marks on the margins 
of them. 

Almost as soon as he saw Lucy, he 
begged her to be kind enough to copy out 
forthwith the marked passages on separate 
sheets of paper. 

11 There are still three-quarters of an 
hour before luncheon," he said, looking at 
his watch. " Thank you, my dear." 

For Lucy had promptly set herself to her 
task ; and was sorting and arranging the 



MADAME LEROUX. 77 



books and papers which lay littered about 
the table. 

"It will greatly facilitate my labours to 
have assistance in the mechanical part of the 
work. I find that my mental processes to 
be at all clear and vigorous require absolute 
bodily repose. The mere act of w r riting 
often disturbs them. Well, well, I must not 
-complain. As Dr. Goodchild says, if I had 
Jiad to choose between a sharp sword and a 
strong scabbard, I should have chosen the 
sword. It would be best to have both, of 
course. But if I must choose, I should 
certainly have chosen the sword." 

Whereupon Sir Lionel sank into his 
arm-chair ; opened a volume that was placed 
on the moveable reading-desk affixed to it ; 
laid a pencil beside it, ready to his hand ; and 
devoted himself to his mental processes. 

Lucy wrote on diligently until the silvery 
chime of the library time-piece announced 
the luncheon hour. At its sound, she laid 
down her pen, and looked at Sir Lionel, who 
at the same moment had risen from his seat, 
.and was saying to Miss Feltham : 



78 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Probably Lady Charlotte will lunch in 
her own room, since she is not down yet. 
Perhaps we had better " 

He was interrupted by the opening of the 
door, and the entrance of Lady Charlotte 
Gaunt just as the first strokes of the gong 
began to boom through the hall. 

" Oh, good morning, Lady Charlotte, I 
hope you have rested well ? I began to think 
that, perhaps, you were not coming to 
luncheon." 

He offered his arm to his sister-in-law as- 
he spoke, and she answered, during their 
passage from the library to the dining-room,. 
." In that case I should have let you 
know. I would not have kept you waiting a. 
moment. I know your accurate punctuality 
of old. ' 

" Necessity in my case, I'm sorry to say. 
Not that punctuality is not desirable always, 
But in my case it is positively commanded 
by my physicians. Any irregularity in the 
hours of eating such little food as I am 
able to take produces the most disastrous 
effects." 



MADAME LEROUX. 79- 

As soon as the whole party were seated 
at table, Sir Lionel said graciously, " Lady 
Charlotte, I must present my private secre- 
tary to you. You didn't know I had a 
private secretary ? Oh, dear, yes ; and a 
most admirable one ! Miss Lucy Marston." 

Lucy coloured under the cold and 
scrutinising look which Lady Charlotte gave 
in return for her modest bow. But in an 
instant, as the girl's eyes met her own, the 
expression of Lady Charlotte's face changed 
and broke up, as it were, like an- image in 
water suddenly troubled. There was per- 
plexity in it, and something like pain, and an 
almost fierce haughtiness. 

"What name did you say?" she asked,, 
speaking a thought quicker than was habitual 
with her. 

" Miss Lucy Marston, Mildred's dearest 
friend, and a great pet with us all," answered 
Sir Lionel. 

Lucy looked at him with a grateful smile, 
and then looked back at Lady Charlotte. 
But the latter turned away her face as she 
said, 



-So MADAME LEROUX. 

" Miss Marston was not here last night 
when I arrived ? " 

" No," broke out Mildred, eagerly ; "she 
had gone away to her uncle's, and I had the 
trouble of bringing her home this morning 
for this is her real home. But she is a very 
self-willed person, and I have some difficulty 
in keeping her in order, I assure you. But, 
Aunt Charlotte, you must not call her ' Miss 
Marston.' We shan't know whom you are 
talking about. Lucy is Lucy at Enderby 
Court." 

Lady Charlotte smiled indulgently on her 
niece ; and then, turning to Sir Lionel, 
quietly remarked in her rather slow and 
guttural tones, 

" Mildred has poor dear Jane's eyes the 
Gaunt eyes. Really blue eyes are rare ; 
what are called so, have very often no pure 
colour in them." 

Lucy felt chilled, as though a cold breeze 
had blown over her. Lady Charlotte's 
manner seemed to her to express very 
plainly that her ladyship did not think it 
worth while to bestow any further attention 



MADAME LEROUX. 8r 

on Miss Lucy Marston. No one else, how- 
ever, seemed struck by this. Mildred, at all 
events, was evidently unconscious of her 
aunt's having any such meaning ; and Sir 
Lionel's attention had been attracted else- 
where, for there happened to be a very 
favourite dish of his on the table. It was a 
sweetbread dressed with a peculiar white 
sauce, which his chef professed to have in- 
vented. With this dish Sir Lionel made a 
point of drinking one glass of some specially 
fine Sauterne, which he was proud of ; and 
to-day the wine was in perfect condition. He 
was habitually polite, but the sweetbread and 
the Sauterne might be credited with some 
share in the peculiar urbanity with which, in 
reply to Lady Charlotte's remark, he an- 
swered that the more Mildred resembled her 
mother's family, in every respect, the better 
he should be pleased. 

" My daughter cannot do better than 
imitate the example before her," said Sir 
Lionel. " Lady Charlotte, permit me to 
recommend you this Chateau Yquem ; I 
should like your opinion of it. I don't know 
VOL. i. 6 



82 MADAME LEROUX. 

whether Grimstock cares very much about 
his cellar ? A man who is obliged to live so 
much by rule as myself must look upon his 
wines from what I might call the pure Art 
point of view. It is not a question of per- 
sonal indulgence. I have found out, by 
observation and experience, what I may take 
with impunity, and what is forbidden. And 
I will tell you a curious fact, showing the 
delicate adjustment of our tastes and instincts 
to our needs if we were but wise enough to 
attend to them, instead of being coarsely 
guided by mere gluttony. In most instances, 
certain combinations which agree perfectly 
with my health are precisely the combina- 
tions which my cook has arrived at, simply 
with the aim of pleasing the palate! And 
yet my digestion is, Dr. Goodchild says, the 
most delicate he ever met with in the whole 
course of his practice ! " 

During the utterance of this gastronomic 
philosophy, Miss Feltham's thoughts had 
been busy with the past ; and she seemed to 
be completing aloud a sentence begun men- 
tally, as, bending slightly forward, she said, 
in a low. earnest voice, 



MADAME LEROUX. 83 

"And I never heard what became of 
Miss Graham. Do you know if she is still 
living, Lady Charlotte ? " 

The next moment seeing Lady Char- 
lotte's pale face flush, and then grow slowly 
paler than ever she repented of having 
asked the question so abruptly. She ought, 
she told herself, to have considered that 
Caroline Graham was connected with many 
remembrances which must be sad and painful 
to Lady Charlotte Gaunt the death of her 
favourite brother ; the departure of Ralph 
Rushmere ; even the end of Lady Char- 
lotte's youth and beauty and social triumphs : 
for she had never been the same woman 
since. People said that she had been 
crushed by her brother Hubert's death. But 
Miss Feltham had long secretly suspected 
that the loss of Ralph Rushmere had preyed 
upon her with a sorrow all the keener be- 
cause, in her pride, she hid it ; pressing it 
resolutely inward to pierce her heart, as a 
thorn pierces the flesh. Miss Feltham felt 
deeply self-reproachful. But Lady Char- 
lotte, whatever her inward emotions might 



84 MADAME LEROUX. 



have been, answered with perfect self-posses- 
sion, " Certainly she is living. Why should 
she not be ? You are living. I am living. 
And she is my junior." 

" Oh, yes ; of course she is a great deal 
younger than I. I asked only because when, 
she left Lady Grimstock she was not in good- 
health." 

Lady Charlotte withdrew her eyes from 
Miss Feltham's nervous face, as she an- 
swered, " She was ill. But she was suffering 
in mind more than in body. She had great 
troubles bitter troubles." 

" Dear me ! I had never heard ! I 
am sorry to hear it ! " 

" I do not think you were ever a great 
friend of Caroline's, Miss Feltham," answered 
Lady Charlotte, regarding the governess with 
a slow, expressionless glance which was in- 
finitely contemptuous. 

The governess felt the tone, rather than 
the words, of this little speech to be offen- 
sive, and replied to it with a good deal of 
quiet dignity. u No, Lady Charlotte; it is 
quite true that I never was a great friend of 



MADAME LEROUX. 85 

Miss Graham's. A 'great friend' is a great 
word. Nevertheless, I am sorry to hear that 
she had bitter troubles. At any rate, she 
had the consolation of a friendship far more 
valuable than mine could ever have been. 
I know that you were consistently good to 
her." 

" The Gaunts are not apt to be fickle in 
their friendships," put in Sir Lionel. 

" I am sure I have reason gratefully to 
say so," answered Miss Feltham. 

" Caroline Graham has no obligations to 
me," said Lady Charlotte, speaking in a 
resolute way, and as though she were re- 
hearsing something she had deliberately 
made up her mind to say. " Her affection 
her devotion, to me and mine, deserve all, 
.and more than all, I ever had it in my power 
to do for her." 

Mildred, vaguely remembering having 
heard her mother mention a Caroline Gra- 
ham, who was a pretty girl long ago in the 
days of her mother's own youth, began to 
question her aunt about her. But Lady 
Charlotte checked her. " I have not seen 



86 MADAME LEROUX. 

her for years, Mildred. We do not meet. I 
know her to be in an honourable position, 
and doing well. If she were in need or 
trouble to-morrow, and I could help her, she 
would ask me. She would have a right to 
ask me. That is enough for us both." 
Then, turning to her brother-in-law, she 
said, " Now you must not make ceremonies, 
Lionel. I have informed myself as to your 
habits, and Mrs. Griffiths tells me that you 
retire into the library after luncheon, and are 
not to be disturbed until you ring. You 
must do as you are accustomed to do. I 
have plenty to occupy me during the next 
two hours. In the first place, I have desired 
Mrs. Griffiths to show me all over the house, 
I mean to visit it thoroughly. I must make 
myself acquainted with the sphere of my 
duties, you know ; for I don't hold with 
constitutional government for a household : 
Queen Log, with a responsible Cabinet of 
upper servants. I intend to be a real chate- 
laine after the fashion of my great-great- 
grandmothers." 

Sir Lionel, with a murmured word or two 



MADAME LEROUX. 87 

about the sad necessity a valetudinarian was 
under of submitting to live by rule, mildly 
resigned himself to the decrees of Fate ; 
and soon fell peacefully asleep in his arm- 
chair, with a fine old folio wide open on the 
reading-desk beside him. 

Then said Lady Charlotte to her niece, 
" I will have some tea in my own room at 
five o'clock, Mildred ; and you must come to 
me then, and we will have a quiet chat to- 
gether, and get better acquainted with each 
other. You and I are to be very dear friends, 
you know, my child." Lady Charlotte 
lightly stroked the girl's hair, and looked 
down at her with a smile, and a softened 
gleam from the steel-grey eyes, which made 
Mildred all at once understand why it was 
that every one who had known her aunt in 
the past days had retained an impression of 
her remarkable beauty. " Meanwhile/' pro- 
ceeded Lady Charlotte, " I dare say Miss 
Feltham can find something for you to do. I 
suppose you have some lessons ? reading, 
and so on ? Do you draw still, Miss Felt- 
ham ? I remember your flower-pieces. I 



88 MADAME LEROUX. 



must pay you a visit in the schoolroom to- 



morrow." 



The servants had withdrawn before this 
time, but, on Lady Charlotte's ringing the 
bell, the butler promptly appeared. " Tell 
Mrs. Griffiths," said Lady Charlotte, " that I 
am ready, and shall be glad if she will be 
good enough to attend me at once." 

Warner, who was already much impressed 
by her ladyship's authoritative air of com- 
mand, obeyed this order with considerably 
more alacrity of movement than was custo- 
mary with him ; and, when Lady Charlotte 
left the room a tall, majestic figure, in long 
trailing black robes Miss Feltham, and 
Lucy, and Mildred, caught sight through the 
open door of Mrs. Griffiths, keys in hand, 
and clad in her purple silk gown, making a 
reverential curtsey. 

" I see now what everybody meant," said 
Mildred, after watching her aunt out of the 
room. " She must have been splendidly 
handsome ! " 

If her eyes had not been exclusively 
occupied with Lady Charlotte, they might 



MADAME LEROUX. 89 



have been struck by the expression on the 
faces of her two companions. Miss Feltham's 
mild placidity had given place to a nervous 
puckering of the forehead, and a strained 
pressure of the lips together ; while Lucy 
.seemed literally overshadowed, as though by 
the twilight of a physical eclipse, which 
quenches all colour and sparkle. But Mil- 
dred noticed nothing of all this ; and had she 
noticed, would not have understood. What, 
she would have asked, had Aunt Charlotte 
said or done to alarm or depress any one ? 
And the question might not have been easy 
to answer. Nevertheless, a painful impres- 
sion had been made. Miss Feltham was 
conscious that she had been entirely set 
aside ; and she remembered, shrinkingly, the 
ruthless self-will of the spoiled young beauty 
of former days. Lucy had no such experi- 
ence to guide her ; she had never been sub- 
jected to harshness or tyranny. But she was 
by nature both more observant and more 
sensitive than the good old governess. And 
.she had, moreover, some share of that imagi- 
native insight which supplies the place of 



90 MADAME LEROUX. 

experience, and reaches the unknown from 
the known. No trait in the little scene just 
enacted escaped her ; the cool ignoring that 
Miss Felthani had for years been holding a 
responsible position in Enderby Court ; the 
absolute disregard for any habits which the 
household (excepting only Sir Lionel) must 
have formed during all these years ; the 
almost naif assumption that their life must 
begin entirely anew, since she, Lady Char- 
lotte Gaunt, was adjusting herself to a new 
place in the world all these things Lucy 
Marston saw clearly and felt keenly. She 
saw, too, what was utterly invisible to Miss 
Feltham the touch of absurdity in it all ; 
and, in spite of her real anxieties, enjoyed it. 
There is no greater generator of oxygen in 
the moral atmosphere than a sense of 
humour. 

But her lips were locked both as to the 
tragic and the comic aspect of the situation. 
Not for the world would she have said a 
word to check Mildred's growing admiration 
for her aunt. On this point Lucy and Miss- 
Feltham understood each other thoroughly. 



MADAME LEROUX. 91 

and were quite at one. So they all three 
repaired to the school-room, as usual ; where,, 
while Mildred practised a sonata, Lucy- 
worked off some of her mental excitement by 
writing at Sir Lionel's interminable extracts 
for more than an hour and a-half. 




CHAPTER VI. 

IT was noticed by the servants at Enderby 
Court that Lady Charlotte took good care to 
pay attention to Sir Lionel's habits, and was 
even complaisant to his whims. And they 
.attributed her deference to that species of 
wisdom figuratively described as knowing 
which side your bread is buttered. But they 
were wrong in taking so crude and simple a 
view of the matter. These domestic critics 
are, indeed, frequently misled by failing to 
get a correct focus for their observations, and 
go on seeing wrong with great sharpness. 

Lady Charlotte's conviction of the im- 
portance of the Gaunt family in the scheme 
of creation invested even their remotest con- 
nections with some rays of reflected dignity 
in her eyes. And Sir Lionel was by no 



MADAME LEROUX. 95 



means a remote connection. He had married 
a Gaunt ; his daughter had the Gaunt blood 
in her veins. There had been a time when 
Jane's marriage had been viewed by her 
sister as a derogation from her rank. But 
this view had been softened partly by time 
and experience, partly by circumstances which 
had made it turn out better than Charlotte 
had at first anticipated. In the meantime 
Grimstock had made an unexceptionable 
match. He had married a well-dowered 
young lady of good birth. Not, indeed, one 
who boasted quite so ancient and splendid 
a genealogy as his own. " Where," asked 
Charlotte, " was a bride to be found who 
could meet him there on equal terms ? " But, 
at all events, the pedigree of the direct heir 
to the earldom would be blemished by no 
mesalliance. And then Adelaide had clone 
her duty very satisfactorily. Lady Grim- 
stock was the mother of three sons, and the 
succession was safe. This happy state of 
things rendered Jane's unequal marriage a 
matter of comparatively small moment in her 
sister's eyes. 



94 MADAME LEROUX. 

Lady Charlotte had a good deal of sym- 
pathy with Sir Lionel's ailments, which she 
was far from supposing to be imaginary. 
One of the characteristics on which she 
prided herself was the possession of almost 
unbroken health. She had as fine a consti- 
tution as her well-made and vigorous frame 
seemed to promise. Only one malady ever 
assailed her, and that but at long intervals, 
.and under the pressure of mental disturbance. 
This was a severe form of nervous headache. 
The attacks had begun immediately after her 
brother Hubert's death, and were supposed 
to have been originally caused by the shock 
of it. But her own fine health did not ren- 
der her sceptical as to the invalid condition 
of Sir Lionel. The Gaunts had splendid 
health ; but one could not expect that sort of 
constitution in every one ! 

On the whole, Lady Charlotte was well 
satisfied with the state of things which she 
found at Enderby Court. In the first place, 
Mildred was charming fresh- hearted, affec- 
tionate, with an air of native refinement, and 
a great deal prettier than was necessary for 



MADAME LEROUX. 95 

so great an heiress. With Sir Lionel, too, 
his sister-in-law was very well content. He 
was evidently willing to yield up all domestic 
authority to her, provided his own habits and 
comforts were in no way interfered with. 
Their two departments would run in parallel 
lines, and there was no fear of their intersect- 
ing each other. As regarded material well- 
being, the home was a far more luxurious 
one than Charlotte Gaunt, great lady though 
she were, had ever inhabited. There were 
only two points which she objected to. And 
the objection grew stronger as the days went 
by and she saw more of the inner life of the 
household. 

The first point was the continuance of 
Miss Feltham in the position of Mildred's 
governess ; the second was the familiar pre- 
sence of Lucy Marston. 

Miss Feltham had never been a favourite 
with Lady Charlotte, whose mind had been 
unconsciously prejudiced against her by a 
person who had at one time wielded enor- 
mous influence over the spoiled and self- 
willed beauty namely, her humble protegee 



96 MADAME LEROUX. 

and dependant, Caroline Graham. But, itr 
justice to her, it must be said that Lady 
Charlotte conscientiously thought Miss 
Feltham unequal to the task of finishing 
Mildred's education. The governess was 
old-fashioned and humdrum, and her music 
especially was lamentably below the modern 
standard. But there would doubtless be no- 
difficulty in getting rid of Miss Feltham. 
She must be kindly dismissed pensioned off, 
if necessary. Lionel would not grudge that. 
The case of Lucy Marston was somewhat 
different Although Lady Charlotte would 
not have admitted it, even to her own 
thought, she was possessed by a violent pre- 
judice against the girl. That she disliked 
her, she did admit. But Lady Charlotte 
did not call her dislike a prejudice. There 
were reasons for it. She disapproved en- 
tirely of the footing which this village 
attorney's daughter held at Enderby Court- 
She was treated absolutely as Mildred's 
equal which was absurd and unjust to the 
girl herself, who could not hope to go through 
life in that social position. The thing must 



MADAME LEROUX. 97 



be put a stop to. Instinctively, Lady 
Charlotte felt that this task would be far 
more difficult than getting rid of poor old 
Miss Feltham. Sir Lionel, as well as his 
daughter, had taken a great fancy to the girl. 
There was a jealous consciousness at the 
bottom of Lady Charlotte's mind that, in a 
struggle, Lucy's influence both with father 
and daughter might possibly prove stronger 
than her own. And the consciousness em- 
bittered her, and, at the same time, made 
her more and more resolved that Lucy 
Marston must go. What was it, after all, 
that poor Lucy had done to incur so much 
hostility ? She had inspired a dislike at first 
sight. Something in her face the frank, 
unfearing expression of her eyes, the waving 
dark lock of hair on her forehead every- 
thing about her was displeasing to Lady 
Charlotte. " I certainly have taken a strong 
.antipathy to the girl," said Lady Charlotte to 
herself. She had great faith in the correct- 
ness of her own instincts ; and would se- 
riously declare that she had always found 
them to be unerring. 

VOL. I. 7 



9 8 MADAME LEROUX. 

During the first few weeks after her 
arrival, Lady Charlotte was too much 
occupied in other ways to bestow much 
personal attention on the inmates of the 
schoolroom, who were thus left very much 
to their own devices, and undisturbed by 
innovations. Lady Charlotte had to return 
the visits of the neighbouring families who 
had called on her. She had greatly relieved 
Sir Lionel's mind by declining all evening 
invitations, and by assuring him that she 
intended to mingle with their neighbours no 
more than the barest civility required. The 
calls, however, must be returned by Lady 
Charlotte in person ; and she was conse- 
quently a good deal away from Enderby 
Court during the long and lovely afternoons 
of the latter spring, which followed her 
arrival. 

And besides these social duties, Lady 
Charlotte was making herself acquainted with 
the denizens of Westfield. Having asserted 
her supremacy over the domestic department 
of her brother-in-law's domain, she turned 
her attention to the outside retainers ; humble 



MADAME LEROUX. 99 



tenants, pensioners, and, in short, all those 
persons in the village who depended more or 
less for their prosperity on the sunshine of 
that centre of their earthly system, Enderby 
Court. 

Lady Charlotte for the most part made 
her expeditions into Westfield alone. She 
had procured from Mrs. Griffiths, the house- 
keeper, a list of Lady Jane's pensioners, and 
also many particulars about the inhabitants 
of all classes ; from Dr. Goodchild, and Mr. 
Arden, the Vicar, down to bed-ridden Goody 
Bloxham. But in the course of her investiga- 
tions in the village she heard of Mr. Jackson, 
as a man crippled by rheumatism, whose wife 
had been a servant at the Court, and a 
favourite with Lady Jane. 

" And," said one of her informants, " my 
lady did send old Mr. Jackson a powerful lot 
o' doctor's stuff every year. Why, the lini- 
ments, first and last, would ha' filled that 
there horse-trough ! Ah, she was a real good 
lady, was Lady Jane. She giv' me some- 
thing to rub my leg with for a sprain once, 
and it made me holler again, it did ; it pricked 



ioo MADAME LEROUX. 

so. She had a feeling 'art for the poor and 
needy." 

This grateful soul having indicated 
the whereabouts of the Jacksons' cot- 
tage, Lady Charlotte betook herself 
thither. 

The day being bright and sunny, the 
front door of the cottage stood open. It gave 
access immediately into a little parlour, where, 
notwithstanding the summer-like temperature, 
a fire was burning brightly in the grate. 
The hearth, and all the ironwork about the 
fireplace, were speckless. Everything in the 
room showed an extraordinary degree of 
cleanliness ; as well as a formal and rigid 
neatness which was almost painful. The 
furniture was ranged stifHy round the walls. 
A flowered drugget which covered the floor 
was crossed by narrow tracks of oil-cloth 
leading from the front-door to the hearth ; 
and, in another direction, to a second door. 
And woe be to the dust-laden foot which 
should venture to stray from these paths of 
rectitude and plant itself on the drugget in 
Hannah Jackson's view ! A small round 



MADAME LEROUX. 101 

table was drawn up close to the fire. Within 
easy reach of it stood a deep arm-chair, 
covered with bright chintz, and made com- 
fortable by several pillows and cushions in 
patchwork cases ; and in the chair, dressed in 
a loose warm coat, and with a patchwork 
counterpane drawn over his knees, sat the 
master of the house smoking a clay pipe. 
Here, indeed, he passed the greater part of 
his waking hours. 

Thomas Jackson had a well-proportioned 
head and face, with rather handsome, rough- 
hewn features ; black hair, but little grizzled 
despite his sixty odd years ; a smooth-shaven 
mouth and chin, and very keen, twinkling, 
dark eyes. On the appearance of Lady 
Charlotte's majestic figure in the doorway, 
and in answer to her inquiry, " Is this Mr. 
Jackson's house ? " he put his pipe away on 
the hob, touched his forehead with his fore- 
finger, and explained apologetically that he 
was unable to rise from his seat without 
assistance. 

" Don't disturb yourself," said Lady Char- 
lotte. " I know you are an invalid. My 



io2 MADAME LEROUX. 

sister took an interest in your case. I am 
Lady Charlotte Gaunt. " 

" No need to tell me that, my lady," 
answered Jackson, motioning to a chair. 
"Won't your ladyship please be seated? 
No fear of you being taken for anything 
but a Gaunt, my lady ; and a thorough- 
bred 'un ! " 

Lady Charlotte bestowed a very gracious 
smile on the old man, as she sat down in a 
Windsor chair on the opposite side of the 
fireplace. " Have you known any other 
members of my family besides Lady Jane 
Enderby ? " she asked. 

"'Oh, yes, my lady ; before I went to 
Lord Percy Humberstone's where I lived 
head-groom for twenty year I was at Squire 
Parkinson's in the North (I'm Yorkshire my- 
self), and the Earl of Grimstock, your late 
father, my lady, used to be there a great deal. 
He and Squire Parkinson used to go down 
to Doncaster together for the autumn 
meetings, and never missed the Leger for 
years. And his son, too the present Earl 
would coom very often when he was a 



MADAME LEROUX, 103 

young gentleman at Oxford. Good judge of 
a horse he was, too, for his years." 

The smile on Lady Charlotte's face grew 
considerably less beaming than before. Her 
late father's fondness for horseflesh had 
notoriously plunged his family into difficulties, 
and his son and heir had at one time bade 
fair to follow his example. However, Lady 
Charlotte cleared her brow, and inquired 
about Mr. Jackson's rheumatism. She had 
not her sister's medical lore ; but she quite 
approved of Lady Jane's zeal in physicking 
her poorer neighbours. It was the kind of 
knowledge which became a great lady. 

Mr. Jackson answered briefly, that he 
knew he wasn't likely to be much better in 
this world. But he didn't grumble. He had 
the use of his eyes still, and of his ears ; 
and to a certain extent of his hands. The 
privation he felt most keenly was that he 
should never more be able to back a horse 
again. For many a year he had half lived 
on horseback. However, a man ought to 
shut his mouth, and make the best of the 
goods that were left to him. And with this, 



io 4 MADAME LEROUX. 

Mr. Jackson evidently intended to dismiss 
the subject of his own ailments. 

"You must let me know if I can da 
anything for you. I have come to live at 
Enderby Court, as I have no doubt you 
know ; and to supply, as far as I can, my 
sister's place to my niece, Miss Enderby." 

" Yes, my lady ; and what a sweet young 
lady she is ! " 

" Do you see her often ? " 

" Well, not very often ; but sometimes she 
does take a walk down this way past our 
house ; and as I ,sit here morning, noon, and 
night; no fear of me missing her. When it's 
warm weather I see her from the door; when 
it's cold, I'm wheeled up to the window, and 
I often say 'tis as pretty as a pictur to see 
them two lovely young creatures together." 

"What two young creatures?" asked 
Lady Charlotte, haughtily. But she knew 
perfectly well what would be the answer. 

" Miss Enderby's young friend, my 
lady Miss Lucy Marston. 1 thought you 
must have seen her. But if you haven't, 
you will soon, my lady ; for she's a prime 



MADAME LEROUX. 105; 

favourite with Miss Enderby, and with Sir 
Lionel too." 

" Begging your pardon, my lady," said a 
thin, deliberate voice. " I hope you'll excuse 
Jackson : though why ever he didn't call me 
when he saw your ladyship coming in is more 
than I know. He has his bell on the table 
close under his hand ; and let me be high or 
let me be low kitchen, wash'us, yard or 
even in the bit of horchard as far up as the 
pear-tree, I never fail to hear that bell, and 
you can't say as I do, Jackson." 

With that Mrs. Jackson came forward 
and made a curtsey. She was rigidly neat 
as usual ; nevertheless, she thought it neces- 
sary to apologise to Lady Charlotte for 
appearing before her in her working apron. 

" If a man will have taturs for his dinner r 
they must be washed ; and you can't wash 
'em specially not at that sink in the scullery, 
which I'm sure, if Sir Lionel could but see it, 
he'd give orders to have it set to rights ; but 
you might as well whistle to the winds as 
speak to Mr. Bates, the steward, if you want 
a shilling laid out on the cottage you cant 



io6 MADAME LEROUX. 

wash taturs without some slopping and 
messing, and 'tis no use to say you can, 
Jackson." 

" All right, lass, I was going to call 
thee ; but my lady hasn't been here many 
minutes." 

" An' I hope you haven't been tiring her 
ladyship out with your chat ? Of course, my 
lady, when a man has lost the use of his 
joints, there's allowances to be made. But 
every one can't feel the same as a wife ; and 
no call that they should neither." 

While she was speaking, Mrs. Jackson 
brought forward a little wooden footstool 
which she dusted (quite superfluously) with 
her apron, and placed under the visitor's feet. 

Lady Charlotte barely noticed this 
civility. Her mind was intent on another 
matter. 

" No," she answered, " Mr. Jackson has 
not tired me at all. He was just speaking* 
I think, of a young lady who was allowed 
to play with my niece when they were 
children." 

Jackson detected something hostile in her 



MADAME LEROUX. 107 

tone, and would have replied with caution, 
but Hannah at once struck in : 

"Oh! he's been mentioning that Miss 
Marston, has he, my lady ? Well, it seems 
to me, the men talks and thinks about her 
more than she's worth ; and much good may 
it do her ! There's that old Mr. Pinhorn 
he keeps the grocer's shop, my lady, in the 
village ; and I've nothing to say against his 
grocery. We buy the best, Jackson and me, 
and you'd better charge a fair profit on your 
goods than sell cheap rubbish as isn't fit to 
throw to the pigs. But in some things he's 
a weak fool, is Pinhorn I believe the men 
mostly are." 

Mr. Jackson received this sweeping 
generalisation from the particular instance of 
Mr. Pinhorn, with perfect philosophy. His 
eyes twinkled a little more than usual as 
he observed calmly, in a rolling bass under- 
tone 

"Ah, lass, the men's poor imperfect 
creatures ! Tis a pity but what thou hadna' 
been consulted in the making of 'em." 

" I'm sure, my lady," continued Mrs. 



io8 MADAME LEROUX. 

Jackson, "all us Westfield folks is glad to 
know there's a lady at the head of Enderby 
Court again. Miss Feltham, the governess, 
is a very worthy lady, no doubt, and under- 
stands her books and her studies, as is only 
fitting when she's paid to teach 'em ; but 
she ain't one to have authority on her 
shoulders ; and Jackson must say the same, 
if he is to speak the truth." 

" Me ! I say nought o' th' sort," growled 
Jackson, in his deep sot to voce. 

" We all have a great respect for Miss 
Feltham," said Lady Charlotte. " But, of 
course, now that my niece is growing 
up " 

Lady Charlotte left her sentence thus 
imperfect ; but her intonation implied that 
she had fully finished all she intended to 
utter. 

" That's what / say, my lady ! " exclaimed 
Mrs. Jackson ; speaking with her usual de- 
liberate acidity of manner. " And it's very 
little better than a fortnight ago, as I was 
saying to Pinhorn in his own shop, and him 
standing behind the counter maundering 



MADAME LEROUX. 109 



about Miss Marston being such a pretty 
figure, as incoherent as a man could talk, I 
says to him, 'Children is children, and my late 
lady knew what was right and proper. But, 
Mr. Pinhorn,' I says, ' Miss Enderby's grow- 
ing up, and it's my belief if Lady Jane was 
here to see, she wouldn't approve of such 
familiar goings on between her daughter and 
Lucy Marston."' 

Mr. Jackson here interrupted his wife 
with a grunt of disapproval. 

" There, pull up, lass ! Pull up ! My 
lady don't want to know what you said to 
Pinhorn, nor yet what Pinhorn said to you." 

" I ask pardon, my lady, if I've said too 
much," said Mrs. Jackson in her dry, un- 
moved way. " I never was one to talk and 
prate, and so any one in Westfield, or as far 
as Westfield Road, or at Lord Percy Hum- 
berstone's, where I lived before I came to 
the Court, could tell your ladyship. There's 
others in the village sees what I see. Only 
me having lived at the Court, and always in 
the best houses, and being used to high folks, 
my lady, and understanding what is due to 



1 1 o MADAME LERO UX. 

them, I know well enough that Miss Pel- 
tham hasn't got strength of mind to keep 
Lucy Marston in her place. But, of 
course, it will be different now your lady- 
ship's come." 

" Of course," said Lady Charlotte, care- 
lessly, with an air of condescending tolera- 
tion. 

But Hannah Jackson was cunning enough 
to see that her words had been approved,, 
not merely tolerated ; and to form a keen 
guess, moreover, that Lady Charlotte's tole- 
ration of what was unwelcome to her would 
not be very elastic. Hannah began to hope 
that she should get her sink in the back 
kitchen altered at Sir Lionel Enderby's ex- 
pense ; and her imagination set to work on 
other improvements in the cottage, for ob- 
taining which Lady Charlotte's influence 
might avail her. She went on to speak of 
the late Mr. Marston and of Jacob Shard ; 
delivering her opinion that for " 'cuteness" 
the latter was far superior to his predecessor. 

" And if a lawyer ain't 'cute, what is he ? '" 
said Hannah, tightly setting her thin lips. 



MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 1 

" Ah, Shard's a good lawyer," put in Mr. 
Jackson. " He's not soft i' th' upper story, 
isn't Shard. And there's no shilly-shally 
about Shard. He goes about his work 
through thick and thin, over hedge and ditch. 
And if you do go to law that's the way to do 
it, in my notion. If you're bent on keeping 
your shoes shiny, you'd better not walk 
through a ploughed field ! " 

' 'You'll excuse Jackson, my lady," said 
Hannah, as their guest rose to go away, 
" That's his way of talking rambling on 
wide of the mark. As if Lawyer Shard had 
anything to do with ploughed fields ! Of 
course / make shift to understand what he's 
driving at ; but it isn't every one as does." 
And with many thanks for the honour of the 
visit, she curtseyed the great lady to the 
door. 

Lady Charlotte walked meditatively up 
the village street. At the door of his office 
stood Mr. Shard, who had been furtively 
watching her progress for some time, but 
who pretended to be taken by surprise when 
she passed, and pulled off his hat in a 



ii2 MADAME LEROVX. 

nervous, flurried way, as a man might do 
who was suddenly brought face to face with 
his sovereign. Lady Charlotte returned his 
bow by a movement of her head. It was 
neither ungraceful nor ungracious. To 
those who frankly prostrated themselves 
before her, Lady Charlotte was bonne 
Princesse. That this man, whoever he might 
be, should respectfully salute her, was per- 
fectly natural ; the Westfield people were 
beginning to know her by sight. But in the 
moment of passing the garden gate, a few 
paces further on, her long-sighted grey eyes 
read the inscription on a brass plate affixed 
to it u J. Shard, Solicitor." 




CHAPTER VII. 

FOR Mildred the sweet spring days imme- 
diately following Lady Charlotte's arrival 
had been tmcloudedly delightful. Her at- 
tachment and admiration for her aunt in- 
creased daily ; and in truth Lady Charlotte 
was always at her best with Mildred, and the 
pleasant placid life she had been leading with 
her dear old governess and her still dearer 
friend flowed on undisturbed. 

Lucy, too, recovered from the depression 
and anxiety which Lady Charlotte's coming 
had at first caused her. She felt, indeed, for 
she was too sensitive and quick-sighted not 
to perceive it, that she had failed to attract 
her ladyship's approval. And she smiled in 
a rather melancholy fashion when Mildred 
declared, in all good faith, that she was sure 
VOL. i. [ IJ 3 ] 8 



ii 4 MADAME LEROUX. 



Aunt Charlotte liked Lucy very much 
already, and would soon love her as much 
as the rest of the family loved her. But 
Lucy was content to compound for cool dis- 
regard, if only Lady Charlotte would leave 
her alone ; if she were only not hostile ! 

"Well, after all," said Lucy confiden- 
tially to Miss Feltham one day, some three 
weeks after Lady Charlotte's arrival, "you 
see there have been no changes made. I 
confess I was nervous." 

The governess shook her head. She 
was thinking of herself, and of how the new 
regime would affect her. 

" I hope all may continue to go on 
smoothly," she said. " But the Gaunt family 
are all very determined in following out their 
own ideas ; and I think I may, of course, 
be mistaken, but I think that Lady Char- 
lotte has some plan in her head about 
Mildred which well, she will certainly carry 
it out, whatever it is ; so it is worse than 
useless to meet troubles half way, and to 
anticipate disagreeables." 

" There has been no change," Lucy had 



MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 5 



said. And yet she might have applied to 
Enderby Court the words of the poet's 
apostrophe to Rome, and have exclaimed, 

" Thou art no more 
As thou hast been ! " 

Sir Lionel was as kind as ever, but she 
saw him far more rarely than formerly. The 
little services she had been in the habit of 
doing for him copying, arranging papers, 
making extracts were no longer performed 
in the library under his own eye. Lady 
Charlotte sat with Sir Lionel in the library 
during that hour before luncheon, when the 
family had been wont to assemble there. 
And Lady Charlotte had caused it to be 
understood that she considered the school- 
room the proper place for Miss Marston to 
do her writing in. Lucy had been accus- 
tomed to deck the schoolroom gaily with 
fresh flowers, and had been allowed to gather 
freely for that purpose from conservatory and 
hot-house, as well as from the parterres in 
the garden on the south side of the house. 
But now Mr. Campbell, the head-gardener, 



n6 MADAME LEROUX. 

informed her, with the utmost gentleness and 
civility for Mr. Campbell was a kind man, 
and Miss Marston was a great favourite with 
him "that my leddy didn't just like having 
the exotics taken to fill the vases in the 
schoolroom." Lucy was used to dance along' 
the stately corridors, and up or down the 
great staircase, with a light and careless step, 
often singing as she went. Now her gait 
was sobered, and her voice was hushed ; for 
one could never tell when that tall figure in 
its black robes, cashmere or silk, satin or 
velvet, according to the hour and season, but 
always black, might come sweeping out of 
some side-door, and strike a chilly awe into 
the air. 

She had not returned to her uncle's house 
since the morning when Mildred had brought 
her thence in triumph. But one morning, 
needing some articles of clothing which had 
been left at Mr. Shard's, she took the oppor- 
tunity of Mildred's being absent with Lady 
Charlotte on an excursion in the neighbour- 
hood, and went down to her uncle's house. 

Mrs. Shard was busied in taking down 



MADAME LEROUX. 117 

her husband's flannel shirts from the lines 
stretched across the garden where Mrs. Mar- 
ston's standard roses had once flourished. 

"La, Lucy, is that you ?" said her aunt, 
panting and pressing one hand to her side, 
as with the other she dragged a heavy 
clothes basket along the gravel path. 

" Yes, Aunt Sarah. But is there no one 
to assist you ? Where is Betsey ? Let me 
help you to lift that basket ! " 

" Lucy ! Not likely, and you in that 
French merino as good as new ! How did 
you come here ? Walking ? " 

" No, Aunt Sarah. I had to fetch some 
clothes, and they sent me here in a pony- 
carriage." 

" Oh ! Well, you've not come back to 
stay, at any rate. Let the basket be, Lucy. 
Betsey will be here directly. And if she 
isn't, that's not work for you. A pretty 
thing if the man that drove you from the 
Court was to see you lugging and hauling at 
a basket full of damp shirts ! " 

It occurred to Lucy as odd that her aunt 
should express no unwillingness to be seen 



1 1 8 MADAME LEROUX. 

herself thus occupied. But she only laughed, 
and answered, 

" I should not in the least mind his seeing- 
me." 

"Ah! There it is, Lucy!" rejoined her 
aunt, mournfully shaking her head. " But / 
should mind. And your uncle would be 
almost beside himself. Well, I'm glad you 
haven't come back to stay." 

Lucy's face flushed for a moment ; and 
then as the colour faded, she asked, slowly, 

" Should you find it so very disagreeable 
to have me here, Aunt Sarah ? " 

" Oh, Lucy, you ought not to talk in that 
way ; agreeable and disagreeable, that's not 
the question. We've all got to do our duty, 
and not follow our sinful fancies. As to 
agreeable, whenever I'm particularly pleased 
about anything it isn't often I begin to be 
pretty sure there's something wrong in it." 

With which cheerful and inspiriting pro- 
fession of faith, Mrs. Shard put the last 
shirt into the basket, and, with the assistance 
of Betsey, who had now appeared, carried it 
into the house. 



MADAME LEROUX. 1 1 9 

Lucy stood motionless in the midst of 
the untidy garden, The paths were moss- 
grown. The beds were rank with weeds. 
Nearly all the flowers were dead ; and those 
which remained had lost their beauty, and 
taken a hopeless, straggling, broken-down 
air. A small summer-house where Lucy 
could dimly remember sitting with the gentle 
woman whom she had called mother, reading- 
words printed in large black letters from a 
book full of coloured pictures, had fallen into 
absolute ruin. A pretty rustic table which 
had stood there lay shattered on the floor ; 
and the seat had been broken up for fire- 
wood. 

No one wanted the summer-house ; no 
one used it ; not a penny would be spent on 
keeping up anything so unprofitable. The 
sun shone brightly on the ruined garden, and 
a small bird, perched on a lilac tree that 
overshadowed the summer-house, set up a 
joyous little warble. The tears gushed into 
Lucy's eyes. A sense of desolation came 
upon her ; and she felt as if all the roses of 
her young life had withered. 



i 20 MADAME LEROUX. 

She hastily dried her eyes, and hid away 
her handkerchief on hearing her aunt's voice 
calling to her. " Lucy ! Lucy ! " cried Mrs. 
Shard, appearing at the drawing-room 
window. " Oh, do come in, Lucy! Think 
of keeping the servant from the Court, and 
the carriage, and the ponies, while you stand 
mooning there ! I cannot understand why 
you do it. I really cannot. And here's 
your uncle come in from the office. He 
wants to say a word to you." 

"Oh, how d'ye do, Lucy?" said Mr. 
Shard. "Just step into the parlour for a 
moment, will you ? " 

Lucy obeyed. Her uncle entered after 
her. Mrs. Shard was there already, select- 
ing from a pile of garments such as needed 
buttons, or tapes, or any housewifely repairs. 

" Well ! And how do you get on up 
yonder ? " said Mr. Shard, briskly. 

" Get on ? I oh, very well." 

" Oh, you do ? Well, that's right, that's 
right. I fancied from Lady Charlotte's 
manner but that's all right ; all right ! " 

" Have you seen Lady Charlotte, uncle ?" 



MADAME LEROUX. 1 2 1 

asked Lucy, with innocently expressed sur- 
prise. 

" Oh, to.be sure ! Oh, dear, yes ! Seen 
her ? Rather ! What do you think of her 
ladyship walking in, and sitting herself down 
there on that sofa, and chatting for half an 
hour ? She hadn't mentioned it, h'm ? Seen 
her! Oh, Lord, yes!" 

" Betsey was ironing, so I opened the 
door to her," said Mrs. Shard. " I knew in a 
minute who it was ; for I had seen her about 
in the village. But she didn't know me. ' Is 
your mistress at home?' she said. And when 
I told her I was Mrs. Shard, she was quite 
taken aback, and begged my pardon. I sent 
for your uncle ; for, of course, I am not used 
to entertain grand people. I have had hard 
duties all my life, and a struggle to get 'em 
done. But I always knew this world was a 
vale of woe, so I expected nothing better 
that's one mercy ! " 

" Oh, yes," resumed Mr. Shard. " Her 
ladyship came in, and sat herself down on 
that identical sofa, and talked for the best 
part of half an hour. I gave her plenty of 



122 MADAME LEROUX. 

rope, of course only just put in a word now 
and then to keep her going. And I think 
I've pretty well got her measure ?" Mr. Shard 
chuckled inwardly, and puckered up his eyes 
with an expression of sly satisfaction. 

Lucy was lost in wonder at this act of 
condescension on the part of Lady Charlotte ; 
and tried unsuccessfully to picture her 
conversing for half an hour with Mr. and 
Mrs. Shard. 

" Now I'll just give you a wrinkle or two, 
Lucy," said Mr. Shard. " You know the 
family better than I do, I grant ; and you've 
been brought up with Miss Enderby like a 
sister. (A great advantage ! A wonderful 
advantage for you if you have the sense to 
play your cards well.) But, all the same, you 
are very young. You know nothing of the 
world. Now, I am not very young ; and 
there are very few games that would surprise 
me. I know human nature." 

" Ah-h-h ! " murmured Mrs. Shard not 
very distinctly ; for she had a shirt-button in 
her mouth. " The old Adam ! >J 

" Yes ; and the old Eve too ! Though 



MADAME LEROUX. 12$ 

she is a puzzler," retorted Mr. Shard ; and 
creased up his face more than ever, in enjoy- 
ment of his own wit. Then all at once 
becoming perfectly serious, without ?ny 
appreciable stage of transition between mirth 
and gravity, he added, " Look here, Lucy 1 
Lady Charlotte in some ways is a cleverer 
woman than her sister Lady Jane wasn't an 
eagle, exactly. But I'll tell you what ; she's 
a deal easier to well, to gammon, than 
Lady Jane was." 

Lucy remained silent for a moment. 
Then she said in a low voice, " I think you 
are mistaken in supposing it would be easy 
to deceive Lady Charlotte. But, in any 
case, I need not consider that question, as I 
certainly have no intention of trying to 
deceive her." 

" Tut, tut ! Deceive her ! No ; of course 
you don't want to cheat her out of a five 
pound note, nor to steal her watch. No, no ; 
when I say she is more open to well, to 
gammon, than Lady Jane, I simply mean 
that she has a tremendously high opinion of 
herself to be worked on. People of her sort 



1 24 MADAME LEROUX. 

are like the Irishman's pig, that could only 
be got to Limerick by persuading him he 
was being driven to Cork. Nine times out 
of ten you can make 'em believe they're 
going to Cork. Now I saw in a brace of 
shakes that Lady Charlotte would swallow 
any amount of koo-too that you could 
administer to her. Very well ! I've no 
objection. She came in here with her 
bristles a little bit up I don't know why- 
Perhaps she didn't know why. It's as likely 
as not. But she went away as sleek as satin." 
Then, very sharply and suddenly, " How 
does she treat you ? " 

" Treat me ! I have seen very little of 
Lady Charlotte. She does not come into the 
schoolroom." 

" I dare say ! But you are no fool. You 
can tell chalk from cheese when you like, as 
well as any girl of your years that I know e 
Is Lady Charlotte pleasant and affable when 
you do meet her ? In a word, is her manner 
kind to you ? " 

" Not very," answered Lucy, after an 
instant's hesitation. 



MADAME LEROUX. 125 

To an ingenuous young nature, the ques- 
tion direct is almost irresistible, and draws 
out the truth as a magnet does the needle. 

"Ah! Not very kind ? That's exactly 
what I guessed ; so you see I was pretty 
keen-sighted, eh ? Now I'll tell you why she 
hasn't been as kind to you as the rest of the 
family are ; the reason is that she is jealous." 

" Jealous ? Oh, Uncle Jacob, excuse me, 
but that is really absurd ! " 

" Fair and softly ! There's various kinds 
of jealousy. Lady Charlotte wants to be 
A i with everybody first with Sir Lionel 
first with her niece first with the scullery- 
maid and the cow-boy. She finds you here 
a ready-made favourite. Well, she doesn't 
like that. She finds Miss Mildred very fond 
of you, and praising you up to the skies, and 
she doesn't like that. Thirdly, you haven't 
koo-too'd to her enough, and she doesn't 
like that." 

Lucy was unspeakably pained all the 
more that she recognized some grains of truth 
in what Mr. Shard said. Still she was sure 
that he took a distorted view of the case. 



126 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Indeed, Uncle Jacob," she said, eagerly, 
" it is not like that. Of course, I have been 
properly respectful to Lady Charlotte ; and 
of course, she does not desire servility. It 
would revolt her." 

" Would it ? " interpolated Mr. Shard, 
shutting one eye, and elevating the opposite 
eyebrow. 

" I mean of course, my being at the 
Court can make no difference to her, any 
more than if I were a pet spaniel. She she 
has not taken a liking to me. I can see that. 
But it will make little difference. I am too 
insignificant for Lady Charlotte to bestow 
much attention on me. That is all." 

There was a pause, during which Mr. 
Shard appeared to meditate, with his thumbs 
stuck into the armholes of his waistcoat, his 
legs stretched out before him, and his face 
turned up towards the ceiling, as he leaned 
back in his chair, and Mrs. Shard droned on 
in one of her peculiar soliloquies a kind of 
hortus sicciis of words, with all the sap and 
colour dried out of them. 

" It's what we must all make an account 



MADAME LEROUX. 127 

to endure. This is a world of sorrows, and 
nobody's free. The high have their troubles 
the same as the low, which gives the believer 
a peace of mind that passes all under- 
standing." 

Mr. Shard withdrew his eyes from the 
ceiling, sat upright, struck his open hand two 
or three times lightly, but sharply, on the 
table, and said, 

" Now, Lucy, attend to me. I'm going 
to give you good advice. That's all I have 
to give, but it's valuable, if you have the 
sense to take it. You must flatter Lady 
Charlotte, and wheedle her, and put your 
pride in your pocket, or else the good days at 
Enderby Court are all over for you. Do 
you understand ? I can't have you quarrelling 
with the people at the Court !" 

"Quarrelling!" Lucy burst out, aghast 
at the word. 

" Let me finish. I can't waste my time. 
I left off in the middle of some office business 
on purpose to come in and talk to you. It 
won't suit me for you to lose the favour of 
the Court. We should all be under a 



128 MADAME LEROUX. 

cloud together if you were to displease 
them." 

" How can I help it ? What can I do ? " 
murmured Lucy. The tears had by this time 
overflowed her eyes, and her quivering lips 
were nearly beyond her control, in spite of 
the strong effort she made to command them; 

" I'll explain what you can do. You can 
behave as if you thought Lady Charlotte 
Gaunt was the pivot on which everything 
turns in Enderby Court or in the universe 
if you like ! You can't overdo it. You must 
be humble and patient. If you are a little 
afraid of her in reality, no harm in that. In 
fact, all the better. But let her see it. Don't 
skulk off, and be shy out of sight and out of 
mind. It isn't too late yet to bring her round, 
if you will make the effort. But it will cost 
an effort, because the first impression has 
been an unlucky one." 

All this Mr. Shard said with an intent and 
frowning face, emphasising the clauses of his 
speech with sharp raps of his open palm on 
the table. Then, rising to his feet, he added, 
in a lighter and more good-humoured tone, 



MADAME LEROUX. 129 

" Come, come, Lucy, pluck up a spirit ! 
I'll back your wits against my lady's, if you 
give them fair play. Good-bye, my dear. 
Don't be downcast ! Lord bless me, some 
girls have to fight their battles all alone, and 
here you have me to help you and give you a 
hint at any moment. Good-bye, my dear. I 
must be off. And, Lucy" turning round 
waggishly, with his hand on the knob of the 
door " don't forget to let her fancy she's 
going to Cork ! Ha, ha, ha. Good-bye, my 
dear child. Tell her she's going to Cork, 
and you may drive her anywhere ! " 




VOL. I. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

IT was half-past six o'clock in the evening ; 
some clouds which had overspread the sky 
as the sun declined, made the spring twilight 
duskier than usual ; a bright fire burned in 
the school-room. It was the interval of re- 
pose before dressing for dinner. Active 
occupations were suspended ; it was too 
dark to see to read within the room, and yet 
there was still so much grey daylight outside 
the windows as made the idea of the lamp 
seem impertinent. It was a lazy, pensive, 
pathetic hour, such as affects some natures 
with melancholy, like the chiming of distant 
bells. 

Miss Feltham was not much susceptible 
to such influences. She was only melancholy 
when she had some real cause to make her 



MADAME LEROUX. 131 

so, she was fond of saying with an implied 
assumption of superiority over those vague 
persons who were made melancholy by causes 
which they could not clearly define. She 
was not melancholy at this moment, for the 
work of the day was done ; she was reposing 
in her own special chair, and she was listen- 
ing, with closed eyes, to Lucy, as she softly 
played remembered fragments of Beethoven 
wandering on from one to another, and 
binding them together with an instinctive 
touch of art. Miss Feltham's consciousness 
plunged from time to time into that delicious 
dreamy state which is the nearest possible 
approach to knowing that you are asleep and 
enjoying it ! She was just losing this sense 
of enjoyment, and was falling asleep in 
earnest, when the sound of a subdued and 
measured voice woke her as effectually as if 
it had been the peal of a trumpet. The 
voice was Lady Charlotte's, and it said, 
quietly 

" You have no lights here yet." 
Lucy, in sheer nervousness started up 
from the piano like a detected culprit. 



132 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Oh, Aunt Charlotte, is that you ? " cried 
Mildred. Mildred was the only person in 
the house absolutely free from awe or sub- 
jection in her aunt's presence. " Oh, do come 
in ! This is delightful ! You are just in 
time to hear Lucy play." She took her 
aunt's hand and drew her towards the seat 
opposite to Miss Feltham's. " No lamps yet, 
please. It still wants half an hour to dress- 
ing time. Let us be happy and lazy. I love 
music in the twilight don't you ? Go on r 
Lucy." 

Lucy stood perfectly still beside the 
piano. Miss Feltham half rose, and offered 
her chair to the visitor. 

" No, no ; I will not allow you to move. 
Miss Feltham," said Lady Charlotte, in her 
low, guttural tones. "I am quite happy 
here," and she took the seat her niece had 
indicated. 

There was a short silence, while Mildred 
nestled down on the rug near her aunt. 
Then she called out again, "Go on playing, 
Lucy ! Why do you stand there like a 
ghost ? " 



MADAME LEROUX. 133 

11 Perhaps it may disturb Lady Charlotte," 
answered Lucy, hesitatingly. 

Mildred laughed, as she exclaimed, " Lucy 
is suck a goose sometimes ! You wouldn't 
believe, Aunt Charlotte, that she is as diffi- 
dent about what she can do as if she were a 
perfect dunce." Then in a lower, confiden- 
tial tone, " She does play so beautifully ! You 
will hear." 

Lucy lingered a second, as if she thought 
that Lady Charlotte might yet say some 
gracious and encouraging word. None 
came, and the girl sat down to play 
with a pain at her heart. She played 
that lovely little melody from Schumann's 
" Kinderscenen" which the composer has 
named Erinnerung, and she played with an 
intensity of feeling that astonished her new 
hearer. 

" Now, is that not lovely, Aunt Char- 
lotte ? " said Mildred. 

" You have an unusual amount of expres- 
sion," said Lady Charlotte. The words 
were words of praise, but the tone in which 
they were uttered was so indescribably 



i 3 4 MADAME LEROUX. 

almost insolently cold and indifferent, 
that Lucy felt something like a physical 
chill. 

" Oh, but you haven't half heard her yet, 
Aunt Charlotte ! " cried Mildred, delighted, 
" That is charming, but of course it is only a 
simple little piece ; she can play more bril- 
liant things. Go on, Lucy ! " 

Lucy sat like a statue. 

" Lucy ! Are you asleep ? " 

"No, dear ; but I do not think Lady 
Charlotte wishes me to play again." The 
gathering twilight veiled Lucy's flushed 
cheek and glittering eyes, but there was a 
thrill in her voice which told of emotion. In 
a word, her temper was roused she was 
indignant. Not an intonation of Lady Char- 
lotte's disdainful voice had escaped her ; she 
understood her words and her silence equally 
well. This treatment was not only ungene- 
rous, but flagrantly unjust. She resolved that 
her fingers should not draw another sound 
from the instrument in Lady Charlotte's pre- 
sence, except at Lady Charlotte's express 
request. 



MADAME LEROUX. 135 

This was not only imprudent enough to 
have made Mr. Shard tear his hair at such 
folly, could he have known of it, but it was, 
of course, unbecoming a model young lady. 
Poor Lucy was far enough from being a 
model ; she was capable of hot anger, and of 
strong resentment. 

" Oh, really ! This is too funny ! " said 
Lady Charlotte, languidly. She, too, per- 
fectly understood the little duel that was 
going on. But Mildred did not understand 
it at all. 

" Of course she wishes you to play again. 
Don't you, Aunt Charlotte ? How can you 
be so silly, Lucy ?" said Mildred. 

Lucy did not stir. 

The elder woman felt that this kind of 
struggle of obstinacy, such as might have 
taken place between two school-girls, was too 
undignified for her to persist in. She had so 
much the superior position, that she could 
lose nothing by yielding. 

" Miss Lucy Marston, will you be so very 
obliging as to play once more ? I hope that 
is sufficiently categorical ? " she said, with a 



136 MADAME LEROUX. 

little laugh, which made the words sting like 
whipcord. 

" What shall I play ? " asked Lucy, in a 
quivering voice. 

ft What can you play ? " returned Lady 
Charlotte. " I suppose you know nothing of 
the great modern schools of pianoforte 
music ? " 

" As for instance ? " answered Lucy, still 
in a glow of indignant anger. 

" Brahms, for instance ! " 

Without a word Lucy dashed into the Bal- 
lade in D, by that composer. And although 
it is to be feared that temper was answerable 
for several wrong notes, it undoubtedly im- 
parted considerable spirit to the performance. 

" There, Aunt Charlotte ! " exclaimed 
Mildred, radiant with affectionate pride in 
her friend. 

" You have very considerable dispositions, 
as the French say, for the pianoforte. Of 
course, there is some want of finish of 
school. Who has taught you ? " said Lady 
Charlotte, in the same distant tone of bore- 
dom, that she had spoken in before. 



MADAME LEROUX. 137 

" I grounded her," Miss Feltham de- 
clared, complacently. " I don't profess to be 
a brilliant pianist, but I did ground her 
thoroughly. She has only had a few finish- 
ing lessons from the music-master at S : 

(naming the county town). 

" Really ! " murmured Lady Charlotte. 

Then, with the air of a person whose 
patience and condescension have been tried 
to the utmost, and who turns for refreshment 
to a more congenial subject, she said, " And 
now, Mildred, let me hear you play." 

" Me ! Oh, Aunt Charlotte, I'm noc 
worth listening to." 

" My dear child, you are worth my listen- 
ing to. Do you suppose I came here to be 
amused as at a concert ? I want to put you 
through your paces ; to find out where you 
stand." 

" Oh ! Very well, Aunt Charlotte. Let 
me see ! I only know one piece by heart 
that piece Lucy taught me, you know, 
Elfy." 

And Mildred sat down obediently, and 
played through a simple composition in a 



138 MADAME LEROUX. 

style which certainly did not rise above 
mediocrity. 

" Thank you, dear Mildred. I see. You 
will probably never be a very dashing pianist. 
But one can scarcely tell yet. It is all un- 
developed. At all events, you play like a 
gentlewoman ; quite unaffectedly. And as 
to languages, now ? " pursued Lady Char- 
lotte. " French, I presume, you are fluent 
in ? And German ? " 

Miss Feltham began to fidget nervously 
in her chair. This was evidently intended 
to be a serious kind of examination ! Lady 
Charlotte conducted it with as cool an indif- 
ference to Miss Feltham's presence as though 
the governess were a casual visitor, in no 
way responsible for Mildred's education. 

Mildred answered with placid frankness 
that she did not speak either language 
fluently; and that she could not read two 
pages of German without a dictionary. 

" How is this, Miss Feltham ?" inquired 
Lady Charlotte. " You know German well ! 
You were educated in Germany, if I re- 
member rightly ! " 



MADAME LEROUX. 139 



" Oh, it isn't Elfy's fault if I don't speak 
German like a Hanoverian," interposed Mil- 
dred. " Lucy speaks it beautifully. She 
has a wonderful ear for languages." 

It was the same with everything else, 
To all her aunt's questions about her studies 
Mildred returned very modest reports of her 
own proficiency, but invariably added that 
Lucy excelled in everything she undertook. 
These replies were not calculated to soothe 
Lady Charlotte. They even irritated Miss 
Feltham, who could not help saying every 
now and then 

" Mildred, you really underrate what you 
can do!" Or, "You cannot compare your 
progress with Lucy's, who is three years 
older." 

But Mildred refused to avail herself of 
any excuses of this kind, and answered with 
inflexible sincerity 

" Yes ; but you know, Elfy, that Lucy 
was far in advance of what I am now when 
she was fifteen." 

Besides the admiring loyalty to her 
friend, which was thoroughly genuine, it 



1 40 MADAME LEROUX. 

must be owned that there was a little touch 
of spoilt-child perversity in Mildred's per- 
sistent praises of Lucy. She perceived 
although by no means realising the intensity 
of the sentiment that Aunt Charlotte was a 
little jealous of Lucy's superiority in all the 
accomplishments they had studied together. 
It gave her a sense of power not more 
serious or weighty than that of a kitten with 
a ball to find that she could move this 
stately Aunt Charlotte, whom everybody was 
in awe of, by these little strokes of her paw. 
So she made them. Such enjoyment of a 
mild kind of mischief is by no means un- 
common in very placid natures, and is not 
at all events, it is not at Mildred's age in- 
compatible with a great deal of simplicity. 

That evening marked a distinct stage in 
the growth of Lady Charlotte's antipathy to 
Lucy Marston. No doubt the antipathy 
would have grown in any case. Such senti- 
ments do not remain stationary. But that 
special evening made an epoch from which 
to reckon. It had also a result which was 
unlucky for Lucy it set Lady Charlotte's 



MADAME LEROUX. 141 

conscience very much at ease by justifying" 
her dislike of the girl. 

Lucy Marston in a few years' time would 
become intolerable. Already her ascendancy 
over Mildred was much to be regretted. It 
was a great pity that the girl was so entirely 
different, in good sense and right feeling, 
from the Shards. But, of course, she had 
been fatally spoilt at the Court. The only 
remedy was to remove her from it as soon as 
might be. 

Mr. Shard, whose entire deference to her 
opinion had impressed her ladyship very 
favourably, had expressed his willingness to 
put Lucy in the way of earning her bread 
away from Westfield, if Lady Charlotte 
desired it. 

" It is to be desired in her own interests, 
I should say," Lady Charlotte had answered ; 
" since you tell me she has no inheritance to 
look to." 

" Not a penny, not a penny, my lady 1 
My wife and I have been at considerable 
charges on her account already. I don't 
complain of that. We wish to do what our 



142 MADAME LEROUX. 

religious feelings prompt, but our means are 
inadequate. Westfield is a poor little place, 
and if it wasn't for some small employment 
which Sir Lionel is good enough to give me 
now and then, I don't know how I should 
get on, I hope your ladyship will be so kind 
as to say a word for me in season ? Your 
patronage would be highly valued and grate- 
fully received." 

The kind of bargain thus implied was 
perfectly well understood on both sides ; and 
Lady Charlotte began to consider how she 
could approach the subject with Sir Lionel. 
It would be very simple to go straight to 
him and desire him to dismiss Miss Marston 
from his house. Lady Charlotte had no lack 
of arguments in her own mind to support 
such a course ; but she would not risk failure. 
She would wait awhile, and exercise a little 
diplomacy ; meanwhile she would certainly 
say a word to her brother-in-law in favour of 
Mr. Shard. 

She took the opportunity of doing so one 
afternoon when they were out driving to- 
gether. Sir Lionel was in a peculiarly happy 



MADAME LEROUX. 143 

frame of mind. He had that morning re- 
ceived a courteous request from a famous 
Oxford don to be allowed to see certain 
marginal annotations made in an edition of 
y^Eschylus by a very great classical scholar 
a German professor, now deceased. The 
annotations had been known to exist, and 
the volume had been traced from a great 
book sale to Sir Lionel Enderby's library. 

" The volume is one of very considerable 
value in itself," said Sir Lionel. "The great 
Stanley edition of 1664 in folio ; and these 
notes make it, of course, unique. There is 
some risk in sending it to Oxford." 

" Why should you do that ? I would, 
if I were in your place, simply have the 
notes carefully copied, and forward them. 
In that way you would be running no 
risk." 

" No, no, no," murmured Sir Lionel, 
" That would not be the same thing to Dr. 
Lux by any means. He wants to see the 
notes on the very page where they stand ; to 
compare the text. Oh, I understand all that. 
A fellow-feeling, you know ! As a student 



144 MADAME LEROUX. 

myself a student who has acquired some 
little scholarly reputation I can only re- 
spond fully and freely to such an appeal 
To do less would be churlish." 

In a word, Sir Lionel was so delighted 
with the incident, that Lady Charlotte began 
to fear it would be impossible to secure his 
attention for any other topic during their 
drive. But, at length, having postponed the 
subject she had at heart with a degree of 
patience which would much have astonished 
any one who had only known her in her 
wilful and imperious girlhood she managed 
to make a diversion. 

" Great wealth is a great burthen/' said 
she, " and involves anxieties and respon- 
sibilities which the vulgar never can under- 
stand. But certainly it is among the 
privileges of wealth to have such a library 
as yours." 

" It is not wholly a question of wealth, 
my dear Charlotte " (he had dropped the use 
of her title by his sister-in-law's express re- 
quest). " Not wholly that. My own library 
has really, when one comes to think of it, 



.MADAME LEROUX. 145 



cost a very moderate sum in proportion to 
my means." 

" Of course you have men of business 
stewards agents people of that sort, on 
whom you can entirely rely ? " said Lady 
Charlotte, rather quickly. She had got out 
of the library with a handsome compliment, 
and she wanted to shut the door behind her, 
and proceed. 

" Eh ? Oh, yes ; oh, certainly. Mr. 
Bates is a very capable man." 

" He is only the steward, is he not ? 
Is there no one of more authority I 
mean whose duties and responsibilities 
are more extended what is called an 
agent ? " 

" No. There is no need of any one else. 
The landed property is not large. It lies 
almost in a ring fence. From the way in 
which my father made his money, the bulk 
of my fortune is naturally not in land. He 
bought this place, and rebuilt and re-chris- 
tened the house when they gave him the 
baronetcy." 

Sir Lionel always spoke of his origin 
VOL. T. 10 



146 MADAME LEROUX. 

with the most absolute truthfulness and 
simplicity, when the subject arose. 

" Of course there must be a great deal of 
law business to be done," said Lady Char- 
lotte, after a very short pause. 

" Well, not much on the Westfield pro- 
perty a few leases, and odds and ends. Of 
course I am only speaking of this estate. 
As to my other investments, all my business 
is transacted by Smithers and Tuck, of 
Lincoln's Inn Fields." 

" Yes ; of course that is different. There 
is a lawyer in the village, a man of the name 
of Shard, who seems to have the reputation 
of being a good working man of business." 

" Shard ? Oh, yes. We know all about 
Shard. A very inferior man to his late 
partner and predecessor, poor Marston." 

" Inferior ? In what way ? " 

" Well in every way, I should say, 
Marston was a man of very pleasing pre- 
sence, and good address. This fellow, as it 
will not take you long to discover, if you 
ever come across him, is quintessentially 
coarse and vulgar." 



MADAME LEROUX. 147 

" I have come across him. I have spoken 
with him." 

" Oh ! Well, then, you don't need my 
information on that point," returned Sir 
Lionel, quietly. 

" Have you ever seen much of these 
people? the Marstons and the Shards?" 
asked Lady Charlotte. 

"Well no; not personally. Marston 
was a very shy, reserved man : peculiarly so. 
As to this Mr. Shard, I don't suppose I have 
spoken to him five times in my life. Of 
course, I always salute him when I see him, 
and so on. But you know my health has 
never allowed me to mix actively with the 
people here." 

" Do you know, Lionel," said Lady Char- 
lotte, after a pause, " I think you scarcely do 
the Shards justice. Since you tell me you 
know so little of them personally, I may ven- 
ture to say so to you. Of course, the man is 
unpolished. But one does not expect high 
breeding. But both he and his wife have a 
good deal of right feeling." 

" Have they ? Well I'm glad to hear 



148 MADAME LEROUX. 

it," replied Sir Lionel, good-naturedly, but a 
little absently. He was mentally composing 
his letter to the Oxford don. 

"And a very proper sense of the ad- 
vantage they derive from your patronage. 
Mr. Shard is an energetic man in his busi- 
ness ; not afraid of hard work, evidently." 

Her ladyship did not consider the mo- 
ment opportune for mentioning that Mr. 
Shard was so little afraid of work as to have 
given her several broad hints that he would 
be glad to undertake a considerable portion 
of Mr. Bates' business in addition to his own. 

" If you will do me the favour to come 
into the library, Charlotte," said Sir Lionel, 
as they drove up the avenue leading to 
Enderby Court, (( I will show you the rough 
draft of my letter to Dr. Lux. That is to 
say if it interests you at all ? " 

" It interests me very much, indeed," 
answered Lady Charlotte. She was pleased, 
and she would have been still better pleased 
had she known the fact that, four weeks ago 
that rough draft would certainly have been 
submitted to Lucy Marston. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE correspondence with the Oxford don 
led to an unexpected incident. Sir Lionel 
in his letter had given Dr. Lux a general 
invitation to inspect his library and to be his 
guest, should circumstances ever bring him 
into the neighbourhood of Westfield ; and 
Dr. Lux, taking the baronet at his word, 
wrote in reply that, happening to find himself 
in Sir Lionel's county, he would have the 
pleasure of presenting himself at Enderby 
Court on such and such a day, if that day 
were convenient. 

Sir Lionel was fluttered at first by the 
idea of receiving a stranger. But when 
Lady Charlotte had shown him that he need 
be subject to no trouble or constraint ; when 
she had promised to explain to Dr. Lux the 



150 MADAME LEROUX. 



precarious condition of Sir Lionel's nervous 
system; and when she had finally volunteered 
to assume all the care of entertaining the 
visitor whenever Sir Lionel should get 
bored she begged pardon, she meant when- 
ever Sir Lionel should feel over-fatigued 
then he began to consider the matter com- 
placently. " Of course, it is a distinct com- 
pliment, his coming," said Sir Lionel. " I 
am conscious of that. The books well, 
there is nothing in my library of such 
extreme rarity at all events, nothing in his 
special line of study as to tempt a scholar 
of his eminence unless he looked forward 
to something besides, eh, Charlotte ? " 

Lady Charlotte fully thought that the 
Oxford gentleman did look forward to some- 
thing besides. And she was on the point of 
saying that Dr. Lux naturally would feel 
sure of splendid entertainment in the house 
of the wealthy owner of Enderby Court, 
when Sir Lionel saved her from that blunder 
by adding, " No doubt he perceived from my 
letter that he was not coming absolutely into 
Rceotia. There is a certain freemasonry 



MADAME LEROUX. 151 



between the learned or I should rather say, 
perhaps, between students of every degree. 
Do you think he can have seen my little 
monograph on Amwell Abbey in the County 
Antiquarian Magazine ? Ecclesiastical archi- 
tecture is a hobby of his, I believe. Possibly 
I might ; if I were feeling strong enough, 
drive him over to the ruins some day while 
he is here. I could illustrate my views on 
the spot, and it might interest him." 

Lady Charlotte encouraged him in form- 
ing pleasing anticipations of the visit. She 
did not now disbelieve in the delicacy of her 
brother-in-law's health, any more than she 
had done at first. But during the weeks she 
had passed in his house, her observations 
had caused her to think that he led too 
sedentary and monotonous a life, which made 
him fanciful and hipped; and that nothing 
would be better for him than to have his 
spirits roused by a little congenial society. 
And then, moreover, this break and change 
in their lives would furnish a good oppor- 
tunity for carrying out a plan which she had 
been gradually maturing in her mind ever 



152 MADAME LEROUX. 

since that little scene with Lucy in the 
schoolroom. 

She wrote privately to Lady Grimstock r 
begging her to invite Mildred to Grimstock 
Park. She guardedly explained to Adelaide 
that she wished to wean her niece from the 
close companionship of a girl of inferior 
birth, with whom, since her mother's death r 
she had been allowed to become intimate. 

The invitation came by return of post. 
Lord and Lady Grimstock would have much 
pleasure in welcoming their niece ; and they 
were delighted to do anything to please 
Charlotte. It is so much more exhilarating 
to do little favours now and then or even 
great favours than to be called on periodi- 
cally for assistance, the granting of which 
comes to be looked on as no more than your 
duty, and the withholding of which would 
be considered an injury. Certainly the 
Grimstocks had never expressed any joy 
over the payment of the quarterly allowance 
which the Earl disbursed to eke out the 
miserable little annuity secured to Charlotte 
under her mother's marriage settlement. 



MADAME LEROUX. 155 

" I don't say you can refuse to continue 
it, Reginald," Lady Grimstock would say to- 
her husband ; " but it is a drag, and there 
are the two younger boys to be thought 
of!" 

But now Charlotte had ceased to draw 
her allowance, and Adelaide was really glad 
of the opportunity of proving that she had 
the kindest feeling towards her husband's 
sister personally, and that it was only her 
poverty which she had objected to. 

"Aunt Adelaide has taken time enough 
to think about inviting me ! " said Mildred, 
when the news and the letter were communi- 
cated to her. " I don't believe I have ever 
been in her house, except once, when I was 
a little baby. I have heard mamma say she 
took me there." 

Lady Charlotte undertook to explain this 
in a conciliatory and almost coaxing manner. 
Lady Grimstock had been occupied with the 
care of her own babies ; she and Lord 
Grimstock had spent some time abroad for 
the sake of their second boy, who had been 
sickly ; since their return to England, Lady 



154 MADAME LEROUX. 



Grimstock had been constantly in mourning 
for the death of near relatives. 

" I am very sorry she has had so much 
trouble," answered Mildred; "but I don't 
think I want to go to Grimstock Park." 

It did not, however, cost Lady Charlotte 
very much trouble to change the girl's mind 
on this point. She spoke of Lord Grim- 
stock's peculiar affection for her mother. 
Jane had always been his favourite sister 
(and here Mildred's memory of things her 
mother had said to her corroborated her 
aunt's words). She said that he would feel 
hurt and surprised if his niece showed her- 
self cold and wanting in family feeling ; she 
praised Adelaide's gentle manners ; but the 
most attractive bait of all was the nursery full 
of children. Mildred adored little children, 
and the account of the three boys, the eldest 
of whom was only ten, and the toddling, 
three-year-old girl, was fascinating. 

" I should certainly like to see my little 
cousins," she said, at length. " If they had 
but asked Lucy as well, I dare say I might 
-enjoy the visit." 



MADAME LEROUX. 155 



Lady Charlotte had sufficient self- 
command to make no answer to this ; but 
later in the day, when Lucy and Miss 
Feltham were both present, Mildred again 
expressed her wish that Lucy had been 
included in the invitation to Grimstock Park. 
There was a blank silence. Miss Feltham 
stole a glance at Lady Charlotte, and imme- 
diately afterwards snapped her embroidery 
silk, and tried to re-thread the needle with 
unsteady fingers. Then Lucy said 

" It was not very likely they should 
do that, Mildred ; and I don't want their 
invitation." 

It would have been wiser to say nothing. 
But the expression on Lady Charlotte's face 
goaded her to speak. She must protest 
.against the suspicion plainly implied in that 
glance from one girl to the other, and that 
disdainful half-smile, that she had been 
hinting this idea to Mildred. 

" Oh, but that's nonsense, dear," replied 
Mildred, in her placid, soft voice. " You 
would come with me, and we should have 
such fun with the children together ! I dare 



156 MADAME LEROUX. 

say Lady Grimstock would Aunt Charlotte! 
I have a great mind to write and ask Aunt 
Adelaide if I may not bring Lucy with me." 

Lady Charlotte shrugged her shoulders 
and raised her eyebrows. Lucy started up. 
" I hope you will do nothing so absurd, 
Mildred," she exclaimed, hotly; "and if you 
do, I tell you beforehand that nothing shall 
induce me to go to Lady Grimstock's with 
you." And, with flushed cheeks, she hurried 
out of the room. 

Truly Jacob Shard had lamentably 
wasted his wisdom on a person capable of 
playing so blindly into her adversary's 
hands ! 

There was no difficulty in obtaining Sir 
Lionel's consent to Mildred's visit. There 
were very few things he would have refused 
to his daughter ; and perhaps Lady Charlotte, 
in preferring the request to Sir Lionel, attri- 
buted to her niece some of her own eagerness 
on the subject. However, Mildred was, at all 
events, willing to go. Her constitutional 
shyness with strangers was not alarmed by 
the prospect of meeting a large party at 



MADAME LEROVX. 157 

Grimstock Park. She had been assured that 
she would be the only guest, and that, more- 
over, she would have full permission to spend 
as much of her time as she chose in the nursery. 

Miss Feltham had had some faint 
expectation of being asked to accompany 
Mildred to Grimstock Park ; but she was 
told by one of the upper servants that Lady 
Charlotte had made arrangements for Mrs. 
Griffiths to escort Miss Enderby and her 
maid to her uncle's house. 

Upon this, the governess at once made 
up her mind to employ the period of her 
pupil's absence in going to see her married 
sister in Kent, with a view to provide a 
retreat for herself in the event of her leaving 
Enderby Court. Although, even in her 
private meditations. Miss Feltham made this 
contingency hinge upon an "if," yet at the 
bottom of her mind she was convinced that 
her going was merely a question of time, and 
that Lady Charlotte was resolved to replace 
her. Miss Feltham was not particularly wily 
or interested, but her struggle with the world 
in her youth had taught her some art of self- 



158 MADAME LEROUX. 

defence. And what self-defence can there be 
for a weak creature set to find its own- 
provender to eat and not to be eaten in 
this carnivorous and pugnacious world of 
ours, except cunning ? So she resolved to 
endure a very great deal of mortification 
rather than voluntarily relinquish her 
situation. If Sir Lionel dismissed her, he 
would probably feel bound to do something 
handsome for her ; if she dismissed herself, 
the provision might not be quite so hand- 
some. She believed, from words and hints 
let fall even during Lady Jane's lifetime, that 
the family intended sooner or later to give 
her a retiring pension ; and she did not 
intend to jeopardise it by any imprudent 
display of feeling. Lady Charlotte snubbed 
her, ignored her, and superseded her in a 
variety of ways. That was painful, but a 
good annuity would certainly afford consider- 
able compensation. During the week or two 
of Mildred's absence Miss Feltham would 
run down to Margate and see her sister, who 
was married to a respectable chemist and 
druggist in that town. 



MADAME LEROUX. 159 

So the elderly governess was absorbed in 
weaving her own plans and building her own 
castles, with the egotism indispensable for 
her self-preservation. 

" And what shall you do with yourself, 
Lucy?" asked Mildred, on the eve of her 
departure, when the two girls were alone 
together in the schoolroom. Then, before 
an answer could be given, she added, " I 
know, though ! You will just go and bury 
yourself in the library, as soon as I am not 
here to make you frivolous, and drag you 
into the fresh air. Warner will have to dig 
you out of a mountain of books when he 
announces dinner. And then in the evenings 
you will sit and drink in all the learned talk 
between father and the Oxford pundit, just as 
I should gobble up strawberries and cream ! " 

" If I am buried, it will be under a pile of 
half-darned stockings. And I shall spend 
my evenings in drinking in Aunt Sarah's 
moving narrative of what she said to Betsey, 
and what Betsey said to her, and what Mr. 
Shard said when she told him what Betsey 
had said." 



160 MADAME LEROUX. 

"What!" cried Mildred, " are you going 
to your uncle's ? Why don't you stay at 
home here ? " 

" My uncle's house is home, Mildred ; all 
the home I have. And Lady Charlotte 
thinks I had better be there." 

"Did she say so?" asked Mildred, 
staring at her friend in evident perplexity. 

" Not in so many words. But Lady 
Charlotte has several ways of making herself 
perfectly understood." 

Mildred stood silently pondering for a 
minute. Then she said, " Do you know, 
Lucy, I am afraid you are unjust to Aunt 
Charlotte. You speak sometimes as if you 
disliked her." 

" I I like her as much as she likes me/ 
answered Lucy, with a quivering attempt at 
a smile. 

The other girl continued to look at her 
quite gravely. All at once she drew near, 
and put her arm round Lucy's shoulder. 

" You are not jealous of Aunt Charlotte, 
are you, dear ? " she asked. 

"No, no, Mildred; don't think that! 



MADAME LEROUX. 161 

Indeed it is not that ! " said Lucy, keeping 
her face turned away, but putting up her 
right hand to grasp Mildred's left, which lay 
on her shoulder. 

" Because you know, dear," Mildred went 
on, " that nobody in the world could make 
me leave off loving you. It is natural that 
I should like Aunt Charlotte, you know. She 
is my dear mother's own sister. And, 
besides, she is very kind and affectionate to 



me." 



" Of course, of course ! " said Lucy, hastily. 
She turned her face to her friend now, and 
tears were trembling on her eye-lashes. 
" Don't think me so mean so ungrateful 
such a poor, spiteful creature, as to grudge 
Lady Charlotte your affection. If she does 
not like me " 

" But she does, Lucy ! Why should she 
not ? Of course, she likes you ! " 

Lucy shook her head, and continued, 
" If she does not, it is no crime. I have 
plenty of faults. But you love me, don't 
you, dear ? I shan't care for for anything, 
if you stick to me, Mildred." 

VOL. I. II 



1 62 MADAME LEROUX. 



" Stick to you ! To be sure I shall stick 
to you ! Why do you say that ? " 

" It is not an elegant or romantic phrase, 
certainly. But it is just what I mean. I 
feel so lonely sometimes. I seem to belong 
to nobody." 

The grasp on her shoulder tightened. 
"You belong to me," said Mildred. "We 
will love each other all our lives long. I am 
not so clever as you, Lucy ; nor so good ; nor 
so anything, except staunch. But I 'am 
staunch. You are my sister. I am not 
changeable." 

The two children the elder of them was 
little more than a child kissed each other. 
Lucy's cheeks were wet, but Mildred was 
quite dry-eyed, and her lips were set with a 
determined firmness, the like of which Lady 
Charlotte had not yet beheld on that young 
face. It was a look which Miss Feltham 
knew, although she had seen it but seldom. 
Whenever it did appear in a conflict of their 
wills, the governess habitually drew off her 
forces, and retreated from the field in good 
order. 



MADAME LEROUX. 163 

How many a time afterwards, and in how 
many different circumstances, Lucy remem- 
bered those, simple words, " You are my 
sister. I am not changeable ! " And saw 
once more the fair childish face, with its 
intent blue eyes, and soft lips pressed 
together ! There was a bowl full of tea- 
roses on the table ; and all her life 
long the scent of tea-roses brought before 
her a picture of Mildred Enderby. But 
more unlikely things a chance word, a verse 
of poetry, the sight of a passing face in the 
street would send the electric spark of 
memory flying through a hundred links to 
illuminate that scene the two young figures 
holding each other's hands ; the afternoon 
sunshine throwing dancing shadows of chest- 
nut-leaves on the smooth, grey wall of the 
schoolroom ; and, through the open window, 
the opulent repose of lawn and flower-garden, 
bounded by the upward slope of the park, 
with its blue wooded vistas. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE next day Mildred departed, but Lucy's 
departure was very unexpectedly prohibited 
by Sir Lionel. The Baronet came down to 
breakfast with the family, contrary to his 
custom. He was quite alert. Not only his 
daughter's journey was an exciting novelty, 
but there was Dr. Lux's arrival in prospect. 
Sir Lionel had taken the energetic resolu- 
tion of driving down with Mildred to the 
station, and bringing back Dr. Lux, who 
was to arrive by the train which carried her 
away. 

As they sat at breakfast, Miss Feltham 
said some words which caught Sir Lionel's 
ear. 

" Eh ? What ? " said he, almost sharply. 
4 'What is that about Lucy's going to her 



MADAME LEROUX. 165 

uncle's ? Nonsense ! Lucy must stay here, 
and help to entertain Dr. Lux." 

Miss Feltham coloured as if she had 
been detected in something disgraceful. 
Lucy turned pale, and cast down her eyes. 
Mildred laughed and exclaimed, " There ! 
What did I tell you, Lucy ? Of course you 
will stay at the Court." 

Lady Charlotte had the courage of her 
opinions, and stood to her guns. " I pro- 
mised Mr. and Mrs. Shard when I saw them 
the day before yesterday, Lionel, that their 
niece should stay with them during Mildred's 
absence/' she said, speaking with the air 
which had become habitual, and almost 
unconscious, with her, of uttering a fiat, from 
which there could be no appeal. 

But Sir Lionel, on his side, had passed 
the greater part of his life without being 
thwarted, and it seemed quite a matter of 
course to him that he should have his own 
way. " No, no, no," said he, smiling amiably 
on Lucy ; " I cannot do without my private 
secretary, especially while Dr. Lux is here." 

Lady Charlotte made an effort to keep 



1 66 MADAME LEROUX. 



her temper and to achieve her aim. " I 
don't know what Mr. and Mrs. Shard will 
say if " she began. But her brother-in- 
law did not let her finish her sentence. 

" What should they say ? It will not 
make the smallest difference to them ! 
But if you are scrupulous about having given 
your word, Charlotte, send down one of the 
men to Mr. Shard with my compliments : 
' Sir Lionel's compliments, and he has ar- 
ranged for Miss Marston to remain at the 
Court.' That will be quite sufficient." Sir 
Lionel slightly waved his hand, as having 
settled the matter. Just as he rose from the 
table his eye fell on Lucy's face. He paused, 
and said kindly, " You are not unwilling to 
stay, are you, my dear ? " 

Lucy looked at him wistfully. " No, Sir 
Lionel, if if you think I can be useful.' 1 

"That's right, that's right Warner, 
give orders that the carriage is ready in good 
time to take us to Westfield Road. Any- 
thing like hurry at the last moment upsets 
me altogether. And see that Mrs. Griffiths 
and Miss Enderby's maid set off first, in the 



MADAME LEROUX. 167 

omnibus, with the luggage ; Sam had better 
drive them. Send round to the stables eh ? 
You have sent ? No matter ; send again. 
Bid them be particular to be punctual. 
Stay ! The coachman had better bring the 
carriage round five minutes before the time 
named previously, whatever that was." 

The unwonted movement and bustle 
roused even the fat spaniel from his apathy. 
He came sniffing round Mildred, and wag- 
ging his tail with a doubtful air, as not 
having quite made up his mind whether 
the occasion were one for rejoicing or woe. 

But all the while Mildred stood in the 
great entrance-hall quiet and smiling, and 
holding Lucy's hand fast clasped in hers. 
Lady Charlotte, who had been giving orders 
to the maid, suddenly turned and saw them 
thus. Something like a pang of hatred 
towards Lucy shot through her heart. She 
began to charge her niece with messages for 
Lord and Lady Grimstock, drawing her 
apart, so as to detach her from Lucy, who, 
indeed, spontaneously retreated into the 
background at Lady Charlotte's approach. 



368 t MADAME LEROUX. 

Then the carnage dashed up to the door, 
and in another moment all was bustle and 
movement. When Sir Lionel did exert 
himself, his energy took the form of fuss and 
fidget. He was helped on with his light 
overcoat ; a certain cushion was placed at a 
certain angle on his seat in the carriage. He 
hurried everyone as though there were not 
a second to spare, although it was quite 
certain that if they started at once they 
would have to wait at least a quarter-of-an- 
hour in the station at Westfield Road. 
" Come, Mildred ! Come, my love ! " he 
cried, waiting impatiently at the carriage- 
door to hand her in. 

"Good-bye, Aunt Charlotte," said Mil- 
dred, embracing her. " Good-bye, Elfy ; auf 
imedersehen ! Yes, father, here I am ! ' : 
She stepped into the carriage; Sir Lionel 
followed her. Just as Warner was closing 
the door she called out, " Where is Lucy I 
want Lucy ! " 

A slight figure came flying down the 
steps, bare-headed, with outstretched hand. 
Mildred seized the hand, and, quite regard- 



MADAME LEROUX. 169 

less of Lady Charlotte's warning cry, stooped 
over the side of the carriage and kissed 
Lucy's upturned face, at the very moment 
when the horses started. A flash of the 
bright harness the grinding of wheels the 
swiftly retreating thud of hoofs on the gravel 
of the drive and they were gone. 

Lady Charlotte walked through the hall, 
where a group of servants lingered, and 
where Miss Feltham timidly made way for 
her to pass, looking like Ate. When she 
reached the foot of the staircase, she glanced 
back over her shoulder and said, sharply 

" Why do you leave that door open ? Let 
it be shut." 

There was an instant's pause. Then 
Warner said: "The hall door, my lady? 
Yes, my lady immediately. Miss Marston 
is still outside on the drive, my lady." 

Lady Charlotte faced round for a moment. 
" Miss Feltham," she said, " will you be good 
enough to intimate to Miss Marston that I 
cannot allow the whole household to be kept 
dancing attendance on her caprices ? " Then 
her ladyship's majestic back and sweeping 



1 70 MADAME LEROUX. 

draperies slowly disappeared up the stair- 
case. 

Miss Feltham hurried out on to the great 
steps. " Lucy ! " she called, in a subdued, 
anxious voice. " Come in ! You are keeping 
Warner there, and and Lady Charlotte 
desires that the door should be shut. Lucy ! " 

But Lucy stood some paces down the 
drive, shading her eyes with her hand, and 
watching the carriage as it dwindled in the 
distance. In a few seconds it reached a turn 
in the avenue, a gleam of sunshine glittered 
on it as it followed the curving line behind 
the trees and disappeared. Then she 
dropped her hand and walked wearily back 
to the house. Mr. Warner stood awaiting 
her, still holding the door, and as she came 
in, he made her a bow. Mr. Warner, though 
always respectful, as became a butler of his 
dignity, was not in the habit of making bows 
to Miss Marston, but he chose to enter 
a protest against Lady Charlotte's harshness. 
He made some rather severe observations 
to Mr. Campbell, the head gardener, over a 
moderate glass of toddy that evening, on 



MADAME LEROUX. 171 

the subject of her ladyship's demeanour to 
Lucy Marston, and, in the course of these 
confidential criticisms, he used one or two 
unparliamentary epithets, such as "cata- 
maran," which, it is to be feared, were 
intended to apply to Lady Charlotte Gaunt. 
Indeed, his view of that august patrician was 
singularly like Mr. Pinhorn's view of Hannah 
Jackson in one respect in suggesting, 
namely, a heartfelt expression of gratitude for 
having been spared the trials of matrimony. 
Lucy's heart was too full to notice any of 
these things. She wandered into the school- 
room, and thence into the pretty chamber 
next to Mildred's, which had been called 
" Miss Marston's room " almost as long as 
she could remember. Then she laid her 
hand on the lock of the library door, and 
drew back with a nervous fear lest Lady 
Charlotte might be there. Miss Felthamwas 
in her own apartment, packing and preparing 
for her journey. All at once Lucy put on 
her hat, and determined to sally out into the 
village. She had thought of an errand she 
could do there. It would be an object for 



172 MADAME LEROUX. 

her walk ; some occupation to save her from 
sitting down alone to think, which she knew 
would, in her present mood, result in 
weeping. She inquired of Warner (still 
chivalrously protesting, in his own mind, 
against the persecution by catamarans of such 
a pretty and pleasant-spoken young creature 
as Miss Lucy Marston) if any message 
had been sent to Mr. Shard according to Sir 
Lionel's directions ; and being answered in 
the negative, volunteered to carry it herself. 

Her way lay past Dr. Goodchild's house ; 
and there, issuing forth from the surgery, 
she met Mr. Edgar Tomline. This young 
gentleman was known to the postal 
authorities of Westfield (in their official 
capacity) as Edgar Tomline, junior, Esquire ; 
but by the inhabitants generally was alluded 
to as "Ted," "Teddy Tomline," or "that 
there young Tomline," according to the rank 
and age of the speaker. He was Dr. Good- 
child's assistant, and the bete noire of certain 
of the doctor's patients. These were sundry 
poor and aged persons, mostly women. 
They would not on any consideration 



MADAME LEROUX. 173 

knowingly have swallowed a draught or 
bolus of young Tomline's preparing, being 
convinced that at his tender years he could 
not fitly be entrusted with the mixing of a 
black draught or a cough syrup ; and being, 
moreover, haunted by the grim idea that, in 
the pursuit of experimental science, young 
Tomline would be utterly reckless as to the 
risk of poisoning a lone widow woman, or a 
superannuated farm-labourer. These pre- 
judices were utterly groundless. Edgar Tom- 
line was twenty four years old, and as capable 
of weighing, pounding, and mixing as Dr. 
Goodchild himself. Neither to put aside 
any other considerations was his ardour for 
therapeutics of so consuming a nature as to 
make him oblivious of the existence of the 
coroner. But he was neither engaging in his 
appearance nor popular in his manners. 

He was tall and large-jointed, with a 
brick-coloured beardless face, very light blue 
eyes, and almost flaxen hair. Big as he was, 
his clothes always seemed too loose for him, 
and were generally shabby and the worse for 
wear. He was a North-country man, and 



174 MADAME LEROUX. 



his accent was a favourite theme of ridicule 
with the youth of Westfield who were 
extremely sensitive to any divergence from 
the local methods of mispronounciation. But 
such as he was, Edgar Tomline, junior, was 
as romantically in love with Lucy Marston as 
if he had been the graceful and accomplished 
hero of a novel, in the dim days when a hero 
was expected to be handsome and charming, 
and a heroine to behave with modesty and 
keep a civil tongue in her head. 

He had, perhaps, not spoken to Lucy 
more than a dozen times in his life, and he 
had never spoken to her alone. As to her 
having any knowledge of his worship, the 
very thought of her discovering it would 
make him cold with terror whenever he was 
in her presence ; although in the solitude of 
his chamber over the surgery at Dr. Good- 
child's, he rehearsed the most moving scenes, 
wherein he declared his passion in eloquent 
language, and she, with a low-voiced ex- 
clamation of " Oh, Edgar ! " or something 
equally delicate and appropriate, hid her face 
upon his shoulder. 



MADAME LEROUX. 175 



Meeting her now, however, unexpectedly 
face to face, he stopped, pulled off his hat, 
retreated a step or two, and then stood 
stock still, staring at her as if she had been 
a Gorgon rather than the beautiful lady of 
his dreams. 

"How do you do, Mr. Tomline ? " said 
Lucy, looking kindly at him. She always 
looked and spoke kindly to him, for she had 
an idea, or, rather, an instinct, that he was 
sometimes lonely and home-sick, and always 
a great deal more sensitive than he looked. 

Her voice made his nerves vibrate like 
the strings of a fiddle to the bow. But he 
could only stand there awkwardly, with his 
battered old wideawake in his hand, kicking 
one clumsy boot against the other, and 
answer in his North-country accents, 

" I'm pretty well, Miss Marston, thank 
you. I hopejj/0^W pretty well." 

She paused a moment, for he stood right 
in her path, as solid, and to outward appear- 
ance as stolid, as a bullock, and then asked, 
with a little smile, 

41 Which way are you going, Mr. Tomline ?" 



i y6 MADAME LEROUX. 

"Oh, I beg pardon, Miss Marston, for 
standing in your gate ! I I was going 
your way," 

He brought out this assertion with a 
half-shamefaced, half defiant air of conscious 
guilt ; for, in truth, he had been just starting 
in the opposite direction. But he was deter- 
mined not to risk losing the chance of 
walking a few yards side by side with Lucy 
Marston. A girl equally in love, and equally 
bashful, would have turned away smiling, and 
perhaps, cried afterwards over the lost oppor- 
tunity. But, apart from pride of sex, which 
in the woman's case would have prompted 
retreat, and in his, suggested advance, there 
was a certain brute-force about Edgar 
Tomline's way of wishing what he wished 
an intent singleness of purpose which was 
constitutional. He had plenty of complex 
motives and contradictory thoughts in his 
brain it had learnt to argue, to doubt, and 
consequently to fear and weigh consequences. 
But by temperament he never jibbed any 
more than a draught-ox. 

With a burning face and beating heart he 



MADAME LEROUX. 177 

accommodated his great strides to Lucy's 
steps, and marched along the road beside 
her, between the clipped hedges, broken at 
intervals by a garden gate, or the rough-cast 
flank of a labourer's cottage. He hardly 
dared to look at his companion, and yet he 
was intensely conscious of every detail of 
her graceful presence from the dark waves 
of hair escaping from one side of her hat, 
to the thick, little, country-made boots that 
encased her neat feet. 

In very pity for his shyness Lucy talked 
to him ; and by degrees led him to speak of 
his home a great stone-built farm-house on 
the edge of a wide moor ; and of his father, 
a yeoman, very proud of his long pedigree, 
and very disdainful of folks who hankered 
after cheap finery material or social. He 
talked of his five sisters, all well married 
here and there in their own country-side ; 
of his brother, who was the heir to the farm, 
his father's right hand already, and one of 
the best judges of cattle in the whole 
country. And then he spoke of his mother ; 
and at the mention of her name his heart 

VOL.1. 12 



1 78 MADAME LEROUX. 

seemed to overflow with love. She was the 
most notable of housewives, never seen on 
week-days without a great bunch of keys 
hanging to her girdle, and mistress of every 
detail of indoor labour throughout the farm. 

Her poultry were models, her garden a 
wonder of bloom in that rugged climate. 
But beyond and above all that, she was a 
woman of fine imagination, loving poetry, 
and reading it in her few and hard-earned 
hours of leisure, with intense enthusiasm. 
It was at her intercession that Edgar had. 
been allowed to follow his own bent, to study 
at Edinburgh, and to throw himself into the 
profession of medicine. All at once the 
young man stopped short. It was the 
prosaic circumstance of meeting the baker's 
cart which suddenly checked the flow of his 
speech, and brought his thoughts back to 
Westfield from the breezy uplands and low 
oak-panelled chambers of his home, where 
they had been wandering with the delicious 
consciousness of Lucy's presence mingled 
with it all like a fragrance. 

" I I beg your pardon, Miss Marston. 



MADAME LEROUX. 179 

I don't know why I bother you with all this. 
It can't interest you," he said. 

" Oh, yes, it does," she answered gently. 
" I always like to hear of homes where 
people love each other." 

At this moment they reached the Jack- 
sons' cottage, and were seen from the open 
doorway by Mr. Jackson, who hailed Tom- 
line aloud, and then raised his forefinger to 
his forehead in honour of Lucy. " You've 
got something for me from the doctor, 
haven't you ? " said Jackson. 

" Yes," growled Tomline sulkily ; for he 
would have to go in and deliver the little 
packet he had undertaken to convey, and 
thus terminate abruptly his walk with Miss 
Marston. But the next moment he could 
have hugged Mr. Jackson to his heart, for 
the old man said, 

4 'Wouldn't you walk in and rest for a 
minute, Miss Marston ? I think the sight o' 
you would do me more good than all the 
doctor's stuff. 'Twould be like a sunbeam in 
the room. And I allus say the sun's the 
best doctor goin' for the rheumaticks." 



i8o MADAME LEROUX. 

Lucy glanced into the little parlour. She 
had a repugnance to meeting Hannah Jack- 
son ; but, as Hannah was not there, she 
entered. She could pass ten minutes there 
as well as anywhere else. There was ample 
time still to carry her message to the Shards ; 
and any diversion which took her mind away 
from her own sad thoughts was welcome. 
She came in, and seating herself in the 
Windsor chair which had had the honour of 
holding Lady Charlotte not very long before, 
said, 

" You must not put down your pipe on 
my account, Mr. Jackson. It does not annoy 
me, and I know it is a comfort to you." 

After a little polite show of reluctance, 
Jackson resumed his pipe. "Ah," said he, 
" I was a sawney talking about the sight of 
you being as good as sunshine. A sweet 
kind young lady like you is a vast deal better 
than sunshine for cheering a man up." He 
had a great deal too much native tact to 
venture a compliment to her beauty of 
which, however, Mr. Jackson was a professed 
admirer. As he looked again at her young 



MADAME LEROUX. iSr 

face, paler than usual, and noticed the down- 
cast eyes, and the drooping curve of the 
mouth, he muttered to himself, " Eh, but it's 
more like moonbeams than sunbeams to- 
day ! I reckon the poor young lass has been 
bothered." Then, addressing the doctor's 
assistant, he said, " Well, Mr. Tomline, and 
how are you ? And have you good news 
from Ravenshaw ? You must know, Miss 
Marston, that Mr. Tomline's father and me's 
old acquaintance. I was often up at his 
place when I lived wi f Squire Parkinson ; 
and I've bought a horse of him before now. 
Ah, he's a grand man, Is Mr. Tomline, of 
Ravenshaw. One of th' owd sort. And the 
mistress, she's a grand woman. This young 
chap ought to go down on his marrowbones 
night and morning, and thank the Lord for 
such a father and mother." 

" I am sure Mr. Tomline appreciates his 
parents," said Lucy, looking at the young 
man with a smile which made him dizzy. 
" We were just talking about them." 

Jackson's keen black eyes glanced from 
one to the other, and he formed a shrewd 



1 82 MADAME LEROUX. 

conclusion as to the state of Edgar Tom- 
line's feelings. 

" Nay, lad, thou hasn't the ghost of a 
chance," said Mr. Thomas Jackson to him- 
self. "She's made of a deal too fine 
and delicate stuff for thy wear. Something 
i' the homespun line would be about thy cut. 
And yet the poor lass has but a blue look- 
out of it ; what with Shard, as would skin a 
flint, and grind the orphan's bones to make 
his bread, and what with my lady, who 
wastes no love on her if all tales be true. 
She might do worse, poor lass ! Tomline of 
Ravenshaw is a warm man." Then, after 
another keen glance at Lucy's face, " But it 
won't do. She'll never have thee, Ted 
Tomline ; and thou's just scorching the 
great blundering buzzing wings o' thee for 
nought ! " 

Lucy sat resting and rather silent, while, 
the two men talked of Edgar Tomline's 
home and the wild moorland beyond it, 
which both agreed in considering far finer 
than anything which the midland and 
southern counties had to show. "Talk o J 



MADAME LEROUX. 183 

scenery," said Jackson, in his rolling bass, 
" where'll you find such a gallop straight on 
end mile after mile over the heather, the 
ground like a spring-board under your horse's 
hoofs, and the wind whistling past your face 
with a sting in it that makes a man feel as 
though he could jump over the moon." 

Edgar was pleased that Miss Marston 
should hear the praises of his home and his 
family from a disinterested witness, and 
encouraged the old man in his garrulous 
reminiscences. For Jackson, like most York- 
shiremen of his class, although he could be 
dumb as a fish on occasion, had nevertheless 
a tremendous power of holding forth when 
once he gave the rein to his tongue. All at 
once Lucy's attention, which had wandered, 
was attracted by hearing the words " Lib- 
burn Farm." 

" Do you know that place ? " she asked, 
impulsively. 

" Eh ? For sure, I know it well enough, 
Miss Marston. It's not above five miles 
from Squire Parkinson ; and we don't think 
much of five miles in that part of the 



i8 4 MADAME LEROUX. 

country. But Mr. Tomline here must know 
it better than me ; for it's almost within sight 
of his father's house." 

" Yes, yes ; I know it," said the young 
man, eagerly. " A farmhouse in a hollow, 
with a bit of a burn running past it. I've 
fished there many a time as a boy. Have 
you any interest in Libburn, Miss Mar- 
ston ? " 

M I think/' answered Lucy, simply, "that 
that is the name of the place where I was 
born." 




CHAPTER XI. 

EDGAR TOMLINE was charmed and surprised 
by the discovery that Miss Marston's birth- 
place was within half-a-mile of his own home. 
So keenly did it interest him, that he was 
partly consoled by it for Lucy's going away 
alone, which she did almost immediately. He 
was thus left free to question old Jackson. 
How was it that Miss Marston had been born 
at Libburn Farm ? He had supposed her 
parents to have been Westfield people. 

Jackson gave what information he could ; 
it was not copious. Of course, the fact had 
been divulged in Westfield that Lucy Mars- 
ton was an adopted child ; the whole village 
knew it very shortly after it had been made 
known to Lady Jane Enderby. Not that 
she ever mentioned it outside her own home, 
[185] 



1 86 MADAME LEROUX. 

but Mr. Shard had no motive for concealing 
it. On the contrary, he wished it to be pub- 
lished for various reasons, one being that he 
might get all the credit that was to be had 
for continuing to maintain the girl. Some 
persons felt curious to know how it was that 
Mars ton had not provided for his adopted 
daughter by will ; others supposed he might 
have made some other arrangement for her 
benefit. Many were puzzled to understand 
where the bulk of Mr. Marston's property 
went to for it was taken for granted that he 
had left property behind him. But it was 
not a subject on which it would have been 
quite easy or agreeable to question Jacob 
Shard. Lady Jane Enderby, indeed, had 
not hesitated to do so ; but very few persons 
had the courage of Lady Jane, nor, to do her 
justice, the same warm interest in the orphan 
child. It was nobody's business. Once the 
Vicar, urged on by his wife, had ventured to 
make a few inquiries on Lucy's behalf. It 
was after the funeral of Lady Jane, and 
when the little girl had gone to stay at the 
Court with Mildred Enderby. Mr. Shard 



MADAME LEROUX. 187 

had been all frankness, all friendliness, all 
gratitude for the Vicar's kindly interest in 
Lucy, and had, very reluctantly but was it 
not his duty to speak the truth ? confided to 
Mr. Arden, as he had confided to Lady Jane, 
how lamentably lax and unmethodical poor 
Marston had been in all money matters. 
And he even confessed that, the affairs of 
the estate being now pretty nearly wound up, 
it appeared on documentary evidence that 
Marston had debts to the firm, for which no 
assets were forthcoming. A small sum of 
ready cash had been found in his late part- 
ner's private dispatch-box, and that sum Mr. 
Shard begged to assure the Vicar should be 
considered by him as a sacred deposit to be 
devoted to Lucy's use ; and while he, Jacob 
Shard, lived, she should never want. He 
talked fluently and rapidly, and if the result 
was to leave no definite statement of facts on 
the Vicar's mind, but merely a general im- 
pression that the Shards had been- rather 
unfairly burthened with the maintenance of 
one who was no kith or kin to them, that 
probably arose from Mr. Arden's being a 



[88 MADAME LEROUX. 

rather slow-minded man, whose apprehension 
had not kept pace with the lawyer's voluble 
eloquence. And in any case, what could he 
do ? It was clearly nobody's business. 

Various distorted and exaggerated ver- 
sions of all this had got abroad in the village, 
and been canvassed long ago. But Mrs. 
Jackson, after greedily listening to all the 
current versions of the story, had selected 
various details from each, and combined 
them all into one legend, which she adopted 
and clung to it having the unique advan- 
tage of presenting everybody concerned, in 
the most unfavourable light possible. 

To young Tomline, who had not been in 
the place a twelvemonth, and who, in any 
case, was not likely to hear much local 
gossip, Lucy's little history was quite new. 
He was still eagerly drinking in all that old 
Thomas could tell him, when Mrs. Jackson 
appeared on the scene She had been 
marketing, and carried a flap basket in her 
hand. Mr. Edgar Tomline she greeted with 
scant courtesy. He was a subordinate, and 
a person of no consequence. Moreover, 



MADAME LEROUX. 189 

Hannah assuming that he had come to visit 
her husband in his professional capacity 
privately resented Dr. Goodchild's sending 
" his young man." They paid their doctor's 
bills punctually ; and Mrs. Jackson was of 
opinion that the inferior skill of the assistant 
ought to be exclusively exercised on pauper 
patients. 

Her husband did not mend matters by 
insisting on her bringing out a jug of ale for 
their visitor. Hospitality was one of the 
many points on which Mr. and Mrs. Jack- 
son's views differed ; and one of the few on 
which the husband insisted on having his 
own way. 

The ale was brought, and Tomline, taking 
a short briar-wood pipe from his pocket, 
began to smoke. If there were no more 
particulars to be learnt about Lucy Marston, 
it was, at any rate, delicious to hear the sound 
of her name, and to be able to pronounce 
it himself over and over again. 

o 

" We were just talking, Mr. Jackson and 

I, about *" 

The young man had got thus far, when 



190 MADAME LEROUX. 



Jackson interrupted him. " Have another 
glass, Mr. Tomline," he said. " Good sound 
tipple it is, though I say it. And if I thought 
you wouldn't tell the doctor, I'm blessed if I 
wouldn't have a drop myself." 

" Worst stuff in the world for rheumatic 
affections," answered Tomline, shaking his 
head. 

To his surprise, Mrs. Jackson here inter- 
posed by bringing a second glass from a 
cupboard, and filling it up for her husband. 

" That's as it may be," she said, tartly. 
" It takes a many years before a doctor 
can understand everybody's symptoms. And 
some on 'em makes mistakes to the end of 
the chapter. And as to its being good tipple, 
it had ought to be that, seeing as we .pay the 
best price and deal with the best brewers, 
and have a cask over at our own expense- 
rail to Westfield Road and carrier to this 
very door whenever we want one ; and that 
you know as well as me, Jackson. None o' 
your public-house beer for me ! I say no- 
thing against the ' Enderby Arms,' and 
I daresay they know how to suit their 



MADAME LEROUX. 191 

customers. But I've been used to a good 
cellar, and I can't put up with the second 
best, and 'twould be no use for you to expect 
I should, Jackson." 

It was, in fact, this conviction of the 
superiority of her own ale over that retailed 
at the village inn which had decided Mrs. 
Jackson to indulge her husband with a glass 
of the forbidden liquor. It was less harrow- 
ing to her feelings that he should drink it 
than that it should be bestowed unprofitably 
on young Tomline. 

The latter, quite unconscious of these 
sentiments, finished his glass, and smoked on 
for awhile in silent meditation, staring at the 
fire. 

At length, raising his eyes to Mr. Jack- 
son's, he said, "When I write home, I'll ask 
my mother if she remembers who the people 
were that were living at Libburn Farm 
eighteen years ago. My mother might, per- 
haps, have heard something about that Mrs. 
Smith, who " 

At this point Edgar Tomline's speech 
was interrupted by a direful crash. A sudden 



192 MADAME LRROUX. 

movement of Mr. Jackson's elbow had over- 
turned the jug, which fell in fragments on 
the hearth, while the ale trickled from be- 
neath the fender and meandered over the 
sacred drugget. Hannah started up in 
angry consternation. 

"Good laws a mercy, Jackson," she ex- 
claimed, " however come you to be so out- 
rageous clumsy ? Look at that hearth, fresh 
stoned and scoured only this very morning ! 
Who's to keep a place clean and decent wi' 
men messing and smashing about like so 
many wild beasts ? I dunno, I'm sure, but 
what it would please some folks best to live 
in a pigstye at once ! There's some men as 
their stomachs seem fairly to rise against a 
duster ; and bathbrick or a damp birch 
broom is poison to 'em." 

Mrs. Jackson, who had been gathering 
up the fragments of her jug, here broke off 
to run into the kitchen for a cloth to wipe 
up the ale. And the instant her back was 
turned, her husband, whose face had been 
expressing deep concern, dashed with com- 
punction, exhibited a remarkable change of 



MADAME LEROUX. 193 

countenance. He made a hideous grimace 
at young Tomline, who had risen from his 
seat when the catastrophe occurred, and 
motioned him with his hand to come nearer. 

" I'm very sorry," said Tomline, looking 
.at him in some perplexity. 

" Oh, dang th' old crock ! What does it 
matter if I'd broke half-a-dozen on 'em ? 
Not that I'm fond o' wasting my brass 
neither," added Mr. Jackson, with evident 
sincerity. " But, look here, lad ! Put your 
head down and be looking at the hearth ! 
There ! Listen to me ; least said soonest 
mended. If you want to talk about a cer- 
tain person, talk to me. My old woman has 
her likes and dislikes, and she ain't fond of 
the yes ; no doubt you're in the right of it, 
Mr. Tomline, th' ale won't stain. Oh, here's 
the missus. Mr. Tomline thinks there'll be 
no mark on thy drugget, lass ! " 

But Mrs. Jackson was far too irate t:o 
condescend to any polite assumption of re- 
spect for Mr. Tomline's consolatory opinion. 
Her mood was tragic and impatient of trifling. 
As she knelt down to rub at the carpet, 
VOL. i. 13 



194 MADAME LEROUX. 

she resumed the monologue temporarily 
interrupted, while her husband, with one 
final warning gesture, finger on lip, over her 
unconscious back to the young man, puffed 
at his pipe, and resigned himself to listen. 

" Ah ! Mr. Tomline may think what he 
pleases, but it's only them as has a houseful 
o' their own understands what furniture is. 
Lodgings won't teach you. No ; nor yet 
board and a bedroom in a doctor's house. 
You have to toil and moil, and rub and scrub 
to keep things decent, and then see a parcel 
o' men- folks ramping and and champing 
over the place like wild bulls of Basan, 
smashing the middle jug of a set, and pour- 
ing out the best bitter ale like water over 
your own clean hearthstone, before you can 
enter into a person's feelings that has furni- 
ture o' their own." 

Mr. Jackson groaned sympathetically. 
" Well," said he, " we've escaped wi' our 
lives, lass ; and thafs summat ! " 

Whether or no irony were a good rheto- 
rical figure to employ against Mrs. Hannah 
Jackson, depended on one's aim in using it. 



MADAME LEROUX. 195 

If the speaker's object were merely to relieve 
his own feelings with impunity, it was an 
admirable one. But if intended as a weapon 
of offence, it was by no mean's effective ; for 
it must be allowed that to have one's ironical 
hyperbole taken literally, and contemptuously 
treated as a manifestation of weak reasoning 
powers, is, to say the least, disconcerting. It 
did not, however, disconcert Mr. Jackson, 
who grinned to himself as his better half 
answered loftily, " That's but a poor kind of 
an excuse for ockardness, Jackson, to say 
you've got off without killing yourself. And 
there has been cases of folks losing their 
lives through breakages. When I was at 
Lord Percy Humberstone's, a child in the 
village tumbled down with a glass bottle in 
its hand, and cut itself that bad, as they 
thought it would ha' bled to death." 

Edgar Tomline, as he left the cottage 
and walked down the village street, was in- 
tent on what he had heard about Lucy. On 
the whole, if his hopes had received no sub- 
stantial encouragement, yet his spirits were 
raised by what he had learned. Hopes, 



196 MADAME LEROUX. 

indeed, he could scarcely be said to have 
consciously entertained. But hope pervades 
our desires, as subtly as air pervades our life. 
It seemed to him that Lucy's orphanhood 
brought her somehow nearer, and more 
within reach. His imagination made de- 
lightful pictures of Lucy at Ravenshaw. His 
father would admire her beauty and her 
sweet, lively ways. But his mother would 
be best able to appreciate her. And how 
her heart would warm to the motherless girl ! 
Perhaps she might even remember Lucy's 
own mother at Libburn Farm. Edgar did 
not enjoy thinking of Mrs. Smith, who 
seemed to have given up her child in a very 
hard and heartless fashion. 

In thinking it over, he understood why 
old Jackson had warned him not to talk of 
Lucy's mother. Mrs. Jackson was an ill- 
natured woman at the best, and it needed no 
exceptional amount of ill-nature to find fault 
with a mother who abandons her child to 
strangers. And perhaps, too, there were 
scandalous rumours about Mrs. Smith. Very- 
little seemed to be known of her antecedents, 



MADAME LEROUX. 197 

even by the Marstons ; and Westfield is not 
the only place in the world where the un- 
known, far from being assumed to be mag- 
nificent, is set down as reprehensible. 

The young man was sufficiently "canny " 
and cautious to hold his tongue to the village 
gossips. But he wrote a letter that same 
evening to his mother, asking her, in as light 
and unemphatic a tone as he could achieve, 
if she chanced to remember anything of the 
former tenants of Libburn Farm, and of the 
lady who gave birth to a little girl while 
lodging there some eighteen years ago. 

Meanwhile the subject of these thoughts 
and speculations had proceeded on her 
errand to Mrs. Shard's house, and had been 
received there by Aunt Sarah with a mien 
somewhat more dismal than usual. 

"It's no use to talk to me, Lucy," she 
said ; " I can't enter into the ins and outs of 
things like those who have had nothing to do 
all their lives but talk and read and do fancy- 
work. I have had hard duties to do, and I 
have done them ; but I've never had time for 
conversation, nor understanding the ways of 



198 MADAME LEROUX. 



great people, and it won't be expected of me 
in the Kingdom of Heaven, that's one 
comfort. All I know is that your uncle isn't 
pleased with the way you manage at Enderby 
Court. He says you haven't made a good 
impression on Lady Charlotte ; and why in 
the world you don't do it, when you know 
how important it is, I can't think, I really 
cannot." 

This was not an exhilarating style of 
discourse, and after the emotions of the 
morning, poor Lucy felt it very difficult to 
forbear bursting into tears from sheer 
nervous depression. But when Mr. Shard 
came home, he proved to be in a 
sufficiently good humour; and, to Lucy's 
great relief, he spared her a lecture 
on the best method of managing Lady 
Charlotte. 

" I have been at the station at Westfield 
Road," said he, rubbing his hands as his 
manner was when pleased ; "and there was 
Sir Lionel seeing his daughter off. Oh 
dear, yes ; Sir Lionel himself, to be sure. To 
be sure. They were a deal too early; had to 



MADAME LEROUX. 199 



wait twenty minutes for the train. So I had 
a little chat with the baronet. Very affable 
he was too. Very affable indeed." Then, 
turning to Lucy, he said, " I had heard about 
this Oxford gentleman coming down to stay 
at the Court. Got it out of Mrs. Griffiths. 
Mrs. Griffiths and I have become quite 
chums since I saw you last. I've been able 
to help her in a little matter about an 
investment of hers. She was going to make 
ducks and drakes of her money putting it 
into some bogus company they'd bamboozled 
her about. She even paid a deposit on some 
shares ha, ha, ha ! But as I happened to 
know something about the concern through 
my cousin in London, I just warned her in 
time. Couldn't get back the deposit though ! 
No go. They're a deal too sharp for that, 
thank ye ! " And here Mr. Shard chuckled 
with sympathetic admiration. " But I saved 
her from a bad mess ; and she's very grateful 
and chatty, and tells me a good deal that's 
worth knowing. So you see, Lucy" with 
sudden solemnity "that we ought never 
to neglect helping our fellow-creatures when 



200 MADAME LEROUX. 

there's the smallest chance of their being able 
to help us again." 

" I am glad you saved Mrs. Griffiths from 
losing her money," said Lucy quietly ; " she 
is a very good old soul." 

" She's a regular old simpleton," assented 
Mr. Shard, with a nod, as though the two 
phrases had been synonymous. " And / never 
let my pride stand in the way of business ; 
I'd hob and nob with any one of the servants- 
at the Hall if I thought they could be 
useful." 

" Ah, to be sure ! " murmured Mrs. Shard, 
" * Pride goeth before a fall, and a haughty 
spirit before destruction.' We're all worms 
and mire, and when once you're sure of that 
you have peace of mind." 

Lucy, perhaps from not having reached 
this comfortable conviction, was decidedly 
mortified by the idea which Mr. Shard had 
presented to her imagination of his " hobbing 
and nobbing" with the servants at the Court ; 
and she said, somewhat stiffly, that it was 
good to be kind to all people, but surely not 
necessary to be familiar. 



MADAME LEROUX. 20 r 

"Ah, that's your mistake, Lucy," 
returned Mr. Shard, without the least 
temper, but in a tone of almost contemptuous- 
pity ; "that's where you've got on the wrong 
side of the hedge with Lady C., through 
being too stuck up and high-flown in your 
notions. However," shrugging his shoulders, 
and raising his hands with the palms 
outwards, " I'm not going to waste my time 
going over all that ground again. I gave 
you good advice, and did my best for you, 
and now I'm going to do my best for myself; 
don't make any mistake about that. If I 
hadn't heard from Mrs. Griffiths something 
about this Oxford Dr. What's-his-name, I 
shouldn't have been able to make myself so 
agreeable to Sir Lionel, and I should have 
lost a chance. As it was, by a little judicious 
soft-sawder in the right place, I pleased him, 
and got him to listen to me, and did myself 
a good turn. And who's the worse for it ? 
I don't know what's the good of Providence 
laying opportunities in our way if we ga 
about with our noses in the air, and are too- 
proud to pick 'em up ! " 



202 MADAME LEROUX. 

There was a silence, broken only by a 
prolonged sniff from Mrs. Shard. She shook 
her head over some kitchen towels she was 
marking, and brought down a hot iron on 
them every now and then with a hopeless 
kind of flop, as though she were emphasising 
the vanity of all sublunary things. 

" Do you know, Uncle Jacob," said Lucy, 
at length, " that Sir Lionel has asked me 
to remain at the Court during Mildred's 
absence ? " 

"Yes," answered Mr. Shard, in a high- 
pitched tone of voice. "Yes ; Miss Enderby 
mentioned it. All very well, Lucy ; so much 
the better. Make hay while the sun shines, 
if you can. It's your own look out 
entirely ; I shan't interfere. But as far 
as / and my affairs are concerned, I've 
taken matters into my own hands, and don't 
mean to trouble you." And Mr. Shard, 
sticking his hands into his pockets, elevated 
his eyebrows and his shoulders as well as his 
voice, by way of expressing that he divested 
himself of all further interest in Lucy's 
behaviour at the Court. 



MADAME LEROUX. 203 

This resolution on her uncle's part was a 
great relief to her mind, and she left the 
Shards' house somewhat more cheerful than 
when she had entered it a thing which 
had rarely happened of late. 

But this little elation of spirits did not 
las: long. She was presently bowed down 
by shame and confusion in listening to Sir 
Lionel's account of his interview with Mr. 
Shard at Westfield Road. " I assure you, 
Charlotte," said the good, simple gentleman, 
"that I felt I had done Mr. Shard some 
injustice. Understand me, my dear Lucy, I 
allude to my judgment of your uncle's 
manner merely his manner. He is no kin 
to our late esteemed friend Marston, and 
therefore it will not, I trust, hurt your 
feelings if we admit among ourselves that 
Mr. Shard's manner is not at first sight 
prepossessing. But I was surprised, Char- 
lotte, to find that he takes a great interest in 
all our local antiquities, and only regrets that 
his business leaves him so little time for 
studying them. He knew all about my 
papers on Amwell Abbey, however, which 



204 MADAME LEROUX. 

he was good enough to say he had read 
with delight as well as instruction. He had 
heard, too, of Dr. Lux's visit ; he regards it 
in a light far too flattering to my humble 
acquirements, but still in short, I find my 
neighbours look on me as a student whose 
reputation sheds some lustre on Westfield." 

" I told you," answered Lady Charlotte, 
with a kind of calm triumph, "that Mr. 
Shard was a man of very sound sense and 
right principles. I am glad you had the 
opportunity of speaking with him." 

During all this Lucy endured an agony 
of shame and misery, and, by her silence and 
her downcast looks, gave Lady Charlotte 
occasion to remark privately to Sir Lionel 
what a pity it was that Miss Marston seemed 
to have no feeling of attachment for the 
Shards, who had been so good to her. 




CHAPTER XII. 

MOVEMENT and change of any kind propa- 
gate themselves. The innovation of Dr. 
Lux's visit to Enderby Court brought a great 
many unforeseen consequences in its train. 
In the first place, Sir Lionel discovered that 
a break in the routine to which he had so 
long accustomed himself, injured neither his 
health nor his comfort, while it gave him con- 
siderable gratification in various ways. But 
then, certainly, this was due to his sister-in- 
law's presence. It was a great thing to have 
a lady at the head of his household who 
could take upon herself to entertain such a 
guest as Dr. Lux. Neither Miss Feltham 
nor Lucy Marston would have been equal to 
that responsibility ! 

Sir Lionel would not, perhaps, have 
[205] 



206 MADAME LEROUX. 

thought so before Lady Charlotte's arrival ; 
but he was beginning to see many things 
with her eyes. He was a man of the sort 
with whom other men are apt to become 
impatient, but who was sure to be under 
some guiding feminine influence throughout 
his life. Since his wife's death he had gradu- 
ally come to rely very much on Lucy Mar- 
ston, young as she was. He was quite 
unconscious how much he had leant on her 
intelligence and quickness of perception in 
what he was pleased to term his " literary 
work." But Lady Charlotte was rapidly 
usurping poor Lucy's place as his literary 
counsellor. It cannot be said that Sir Lionel 
altogether enjoyed the change. With all her 
wish to please him, she was by nature too 
inflexible and too well persuaded of her own 
superiority to be an agreeable substitute for 
Lucy, with her youthful submission to his 
judgments, and her rapid intuition which 
helped him to form them. But even the 
most uncompromising selfishness finds itself 
compelled, by the nature of things, to make 
some compromises, and Sir Lionel's selfish- 



MADAME LEROUX, 207 

ness was far from being of the most uncom- 
promising kind ; what was supremely dis- 
agreeable to it was a struggle. 

To Dr. Lux, Lady Charlotte made her- 
self very charming. Dr. Lux was a dry, 
saturnine little man, of whom his inferiors 
were apt to be afraid, and with whom many 
of his equals found it not altogether easy to 
be on friendly terms. But his asperities 
were wonderfully smoothed down by his 
reception at Enderby Court ; and, above all, 
by the absence of anything which could be 
construed into rivalry. Neither Dr. Lux's 
pugnacity nor his jealousy were excited 
by poor Sir Lionel, whose pretensions to 
scholarship he treated with a kind of amused 
indulgence. 

But with Lady Charlotte he was honestly 
delighted. Her rank had some share in the 
impression she made on him, but a far 
greater charm lay in the ease of her high- 
bred manner. There was a subtle flattery in 
seeing so aristocratic a woman, who had 
reigned in the world of fashion, listening to 
his conversation with an air of pleased defe- 



2oS MADAME LEROUX, 

rence. Dr. Lux had had his triumphs, and 
had been for years accustomed to supremacy 
over a great many of his fellow-creatures ; 
but elegant and patrician women had not 
been among them. It was a delightful 
novelty to find himself achieving anything 
like social success; and success in a new 
direction is always enchanting, for it widens 
the horizon of our possibilities. 

Of Lucy Marston the Oxford don took 
very little notice ; and had he been asked to 
describe her, would probably have said that 
she was a silent, shy, pale little girl. For the 
atmosphere of constraint in which Lucy was 
living effectually quenched her brightness. 
To be playful or cheerful, or even simply 
natural, in Lady Charlotte's presence, was 
becoming impossible to her. If she ventured 
a little speech in her old vivacious, familiar 
manner, it was met by her ladyship either in 
stony silence or with a cool, curt, matter-of- 
fact reply, which was equally crushing. She 
scarcely ever saw Sir Lionel except at table 
or during the hour or two which he some- 
times passed after dinner in the drawing- 



MADAME LEROUX. 209 

room, in honour of his guest. And she 
never saw him alone. Her occupation, so 
far as he was concerned, was gone. She 
wandered aimlessly about the house and 
gardens, and passed hours in dreamily 
playing remembered fragments on the piano 
in the deserted schoolroom. 

It was a dreary time, and none the less 
so because the girl, incredulous of deter- 
mined and systematic unkindness, would 
sometimes reproach herself with her discon- 
tent, and almost persuade herself that there 
must be some undetected fault in her own 
temper or character which made it so appa- 
rently impossible to her to win Lady Char- 
lotte's approbation. But if, impelled by this 
idea, she made any little attempt to be use- 
ful or companionable to Lady Charlotte, it 
was so icily repulsed that she was perforce 
thrown back on solitude during the greater 
part of her waking hours. 

The only ray of light came from Mil- 
dred's letters. Mildred was well, and was 
enjoying herself, and was enchanted with the 
nursery full of little cousins, of whose won- 
VOL. i. 14 



210 MADAME LEROVX. 

clerful sayings and doings she narrated a 
great deal in writing to her friend. One or 
two of these baby-stories Lucy repeated to 
Sir Lionel one day at luncheon, thereby 
arousing a strong feeling of jealousy in Lady 
Charlotte, to whom Mildred had not written 
with equal copiousness. 

Dr. Lux's visit, originally intended to last 
only two days, was extended to a week ; and 
before he left Enderby Court he had made 
a suggestion to Sir Lionel, which at first 
appeared to the latter quite startling in its 
boldness, but with which he familiarised 
himself more quickly than might have been 
expected. This suggestion was that Sir 
Lionel should visit Italy and Greece. It 
arose from the mention of Sir Lionel's 
articles on the Polymetis. 

"Why," said Dr. Lux, "should his host 
not visit the great sculpture galleries, and 
see the great temples for himself." He pro- 
fessed himself astonished that a man of such 
cultivated and classical tastes should not 
have done so long ago. 

" But, my dear sir," answered Sir Lionel, 



MADAME LEROUX. 211 

almost gasping, " you forget my wretched 
health the precarious state of my nervous 
system ! " 

" No, indeed, Sir Lionel ; on the con- 
trary, I am inclined to think that the change 
and pleasurable excitement would be of im- 
mense benefit to you." 

" I was in Italy as a young fellow," said 
Sir Lionel, with a peevish little puckering of 
the mouth. " I passed a winter in Florence, 
and saw the lakes. But I remember the 
cooking was atrocious. At that time of my 
life I cared more for a good dinner than I 
do now ; but I was better able to digest a 
bad one. I'm afraid I'm afraid it wouldn't 
do, eh, Charlotte ? " 

Seeing that the project had originated 
with Lady Charlotte, it was not likely that 
she should find any insurmountable diffi- 
culties in carrying it out. It had darted into 
her mind as a luminous idea, which, if it 
could become an accomplished fact, would 
facilitate several other plans that she had in 
view. And she had frankly begged Dr. 
Lux to suggest it to her brother-in-law. 



212 MADAME LEROUX. 

And it must be understood that Lady 
Charlotte had fully persuaded herself that 
change of air and scene would be very 
beneficial to him. So the first seed of the 
project was dropped into Sir Lionel's mind 
by Dr. Lux at a favourable moment, and it 
certainly fructified. 

Dr. Lux's visit was over he had de- 
parted with many pressing requests that he 
might have the pleasure of receiving Sir 
Lionel at Oxford, and a warm recommenda- 
tion to try a winter in Rome but still 
Mildred did not return. 

Lady Grimstock wrote to beg that she 
might remain awhile longer, and she herself 
was evidently quite willing to do so. 

" Adelaide is behaving very nicely," said 
Lady Charlotte to herself. 

And she forthwith wrote to her sister-in- 
law, laying great stress on the advantage to 
Mildred of breaking off sundry intimacies, 
and forming new and suitable friendships. 

Lady Charlotte had quite made up her 
mind that Miss Feltham must be got rid of; 
and she had been considering how best to 



MADAME LEROUX. 213 

broach the subject to Sir Lionel, when the 
opportunity arose out of a conversation 
begun on a totally different subject. 

She and Sir Lionel were alone in the 
library, when the latter, who had been sitting 
for some time with closed eyes, said abruptly, 
and in a querulous tone 

" I should be poisoned by the hotel food ; 
it would kill me. And there are certain 
things which no one can prepare to suit me 
like Philippe." 

Lady Charlotte betrayed no surprise, 
.although she felt a good deal, and even more 
satisfaction, at discovering how much Sir 
Lionel's mind had evidently been dwelling 
on the idea of foreign travel. She answered 
calmly, in her usual slow accents 

" Why not take Philippe with you ? It 
is so obvious that you ought not to run any 
risk which can be avoided, that I wonder we 
did not think of it before." 

"Oh, / thought of it the moment Dr. 
Lux suggested my going abroad," said Sir 
Lionel, naively. " But, you see, it would 
involve having a whole establishment." 



2i 4 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Of course you would take your own 
man with you in any case ? " said Lady 
Charlotte, after a brief, meditative pause. 

" Oh, of course ! I could not possibly do 
without Brooks ; personal attendance from 
strangers is unspeakably disagreeable to me.'' 

" Exactly. Well, would it not be the 
best plan to hire a suite of rooms, and let 
Philippe engage such subordinates as might 
be necessary ? The Grimstocks were in an 
hotel at Rome. But I feel sure that the 
other mode of living would suit you better." 

And so the matter was discussed more 
and more in detail, until, at length, Sir 
Lionel said, suddenly 

" Why should we not all go ? You would 
not object to a winter in Italy, would you, 
Charlotte? and I think Mildred might 
enjoy it." 

By dint of talking it over, Sir Lionel had 
come to picture his daily life abroad ; and 
directly that was brought clearly within range 
of his imagination, he perceived that nothing 
less than transporting the chief part of his 
household with him would secure his comfort. 



MADAME LEROUX. . 215 

This proposition was received by Lady 
Charlotte with enthusiasm. It cut the knot 
of many difficulties ; and she took care not to 
let her brother-in-law's purpose cool before 
she had persuaded him to pension off Miss 
Feltham. 

Her next step was to summon Mr. Shard 
to speak with her privately. She informed 
him of Sir Lionel's intention to spend the 
winter abroad, and advised him to lose no 
time in finding some other home than 
Enderby Court for Miss Marston ; adding 
that it was clearly his duty to put the girl in 
the way of earning her own livelihood. 

" I speak quite frankly to you, Mr. 
Shard," she said, " and I repose some con- 
fidence in you by doing so." 

Mr. Shard declared himself highly 
honoured, and greatly interested and edified 
by hearing Lady Charlotte's view of the 
case, which she propounded instructively. 

Great would have been her amazement 
could she have guessed that Mr. Shard had 
at one time balanced in his mind whether he 
should play off Lucy against her ladyship ; 



216 MADAME LEROUX. 

pitting Lucy's influence with Mildred against 
Lady Charlotte's with Sir Lionel ; and that 
he only abstained from that attempt on being 
convinced that Lucy was entirely unfitted to 
carry it out. 

Having, however reluctantly, come to 
this conclusion, Jacob Shard was not the 
man to let any weak scruples prevent him 
from going over with bag and baggage to 
the other side. If Lucy had been able to 
take advantage of her opportunities, he 
would have helped himself by helping her ; 
and he would by no means have grudged her 
any social superiority achieved in playing the 
game for their mutual benefit. What he was 
greedy of was solid cash. Other ambitions 
were infirmities which he could smile at, and 
profit by. He had long ago read Lady Char- 
lotte like a book. He perceived her wishes 
with regard to Lucy, and understood her 
motives far more clearly than she acknow- 
ledged them to herself. 

" It's just a jealous antipathy," said Mr. 
Shard, in his own mind. " When the girl is 
out of her sight, my lady can persuade herself 



MADAME LEROUX. 217 

that she is acting from wisdom and high 
principle, and all manner of fine things. But 
directly she sees her again, she feels she hates 
her ; and it's infra dig. for Lady Charlotte 
Gaunt to hate a little nobody like Lucy 
Marston ; and knowing that makes her hate 
her all the more than ever." 

Mr. Shard had made a successful attempt 
to curry favour with Sir Lionel during their 
interview at Westfield Road Station. And 
he had to a great extent won over Mrs. 
Griffiths by his timely assistance in the 
matter of the fraudulent shares. But these 
were subsidiary aids. It became clearer and 
clearer to him as the weeks went on, that 
Lady Charlotte was rapidly becoming the 
ruling influence at Enderby Court, and 
that, in order effectually to propitiate Lady 
Charlotte, he must send Lucy away. There 
were other reasons which made him not 
averse from doing so. If she remained in 
Westfield, it was just possible that, some day 
or other, an account of Mr. Marston's affairs 
might be demanded of him. And although 
Mr. Shard was firmly resolved to resist any 



ai8 MADAME LEROUX. 

such demand, there being no one who had a 
right to insist on it, yet he would rather not 
be asked any questions. Moreover, if Lucy 
were cut adrift from Enderby Court, and 
remained in the village, she would expect to 
be wholly maintained by him. And, pre- 
posterous as such a pretension appeared to 
him, he knew very well that many persons in 
Westfield would look on it as the most natural 
thing in the world. 

Mention has been made of Mr. Shard's 
cousin in London, from whom he got the 
information which proved so useful to Mrs. 
Griffiths. This man, Adolphus Hawkins by 
name, belonged to a species whose existence 
is possible only in great cities. He had no 
ostensible trade or profession ; but he had a 
dingy little den, called "the office," on the 
ground-floor of the house he inhabited in 
Great Portland Street, where among other 
mysterious affairs he transacted business as 
the agent of a Loan Society. Such, at least, 
was his present position. But he now and 
then enjoyed sudden bursts of prosperity, 
followed by equally sudden eclipse ; and he 



MADAME LEROUX. 



lived in the daily expectation of making his 
fortune by a brilliant stroke of luck. He was 
a man of superior education and address to 
Jacob Shard, and had married a very different 
woman from his cousin's wife. The two men 
had more than once been useful to each other, 
and had, therefore, continued to be on friendly 
terms, although their intercourse had been 
limited to an occasional brief interview in 
Hawkins's office whenever Mr. Shard found 
himself in London. 

On leaving Lady Charlotte, Mr. Shard at 
once repaired to his own private den, and 
then and there wrote the following letter, 
addressed to Adolphus Hawkins, Esquire : 

" DEAR DOLPH, 

"You have so many irons in the fire r 
that I think you may be able to help me in 
the following matter. I want to find employ- 
ment for a young girl about eighteen. First- 
rate accomplishments, accustomed to swell 
society, but would take almost anything as a 
beginning. A small premium would be paid, 
if she could be got into a good school as 



220 MADAME LEROUX. 

teacher. You could charge a stiff percentage 
on the transaction. Answer by return if this 
would be at all in your line, and in case we 
see our way to business I could take a run up 
to town to speak with you. Perhaps Mrs. 
Hawkins might know of something which 
would suit. The girl is an orphan without a 
farthing in the world, and must earn her own 
bread and cheese. Yours, " J. S." 





CHAPTER XIII. 

THE answer to Mr. Shard's letter to his 
cousin arrived without loss of time ; and he 
at once had another interview with Lady 
Charlotte. 

" I don't let the grass grow under my 
feet, my lady," said he, with an air of triumph, 
" But there will be some expense attending 
the affair. Londoners are keen after the main 
chance very ! And I don't altogether blame 
them, Lady Charlotte. We must all live ; 
and doing professional work gratis is too 
expensive a luxury for a poor man ha, ha, 
ha!" 

Mr. Shard here suddenly checked his 
laugh, and plaintively wagged his head, as 
he added, with a sigh 

" But it is a luxury it is a great luxury!" 

[ "I ] 



222 MADAME LEROUX. 

as though regretting that he himself was 
debarred from enjoying this pure delight. 

" I have told you," replied her ladyship, 
"that we shall be willing to meet any reason- 
able charges in order to place Miss Marston 
in a respectable position." 

" ' We shall be willing ! ' " repeated Shard 
to himself. " That means that my lady finds 
the will and Sir Lionel the cash ; which is a 
fair division of labour ! " and he chuckled to 
himself and rattled the halfpence in his 
pockets as he walked homeward. 

That evening Lady Charlotte surprised 
Lucy by requesting her, when they rose from 
the dinner-table, to remain in the drawing- 
room, as she wished to speak with her. Ever 
since Dr. Lux's departure, Lucy had taken 
the habit of retiring to the schoolroom after 
dinner, and there spending the hours until 
bedtime in solitude. 

This proceeding, although in some re- 
spects it was a great relief to Lady Charlotte, 
did not meet with her approbation. It 
struck her as offensively self-asserting. Miss 
Marston ought to have asked permission to 



MADAME LEROUX. 223 

absent herself. But, in truth, whatever, poor 
Lucy did, or left undone, was sure to be dis- 
tasteful to Lady Charlotte ; and Mr. Shard 
whose shrewd comprehension of low motives 
was only matched by his obtuse incapacity 
for believing in lofty ones had been literally 
correct when he judged that Lady Charlotte's 
dislike to Lucy was embittered by her lurking 
shame at feeling it. 

" You will not object to spare me half an 
hour, Miss Marston ? " said her ladyship, 
when Lucy was about to slip out of the 
room. 

"Oh, no! I I should like to remain. 

I would always remain if I thought ' 

Lucy stopped short, finding it difficult to 
finish her sentence. 

" I shall not detain you long," said Lady 
Charlotte, ignoring the girl's embarrassment. 
Lucy seated herself, and there was a brief 
pause. At length Lady Charlotte said, " Do 
you mind telling me what are your plans for 
the future ? " 

Lucy was conscious of looking blankly at 
her interlocutor. Thoughts seemed to be 



224 MADAME LEROUX. 



crowding each other in her mind, but she 
was unable to find the right word to express 
any one of them. 

" Perhaps," said Lady Charlotte, some- 
what less icily, "you have not formed any 
definite ones ? " 

" I I have lately been trying to think of 
the future. I dare say I ought to have done 
so sooner. I have been too much of a child 
hitherto ; of course, I am not really a child." 

" You are very young, but no, certainly 
not a child. I understand that you have no 
fortune nothing to depend upon ? " 

" I have no money at all. My father- 
Mr. Marston meant to provide for me ; I 
am quite sure it was not his fault. But when 
my Uncle Shard came to look into his 
accounts he found them in great confusion, 
and he says there is nothing for me." 

" Well, that is a pity ; but it is not a 
unique case. And you have the advantage 
of a good education, which is a little capital 
in itself." 

" Lady Jane was very good to me," 
answered Lucy. A catching in her breath 



MADAME LEROUX. 225 

warned her that any attempt to continue the 
sentence would cause her to break down ; 
and she resolved not to break down before 
Lady Charlotte if it were possible to avoid it. 

" I have undertaken to speak to you, at 

Mr. Shard's request," said Lady Charlotte, 

" and to tell you that it is very probable we 

that is, Sir Lionel, and Mildred, and I 

shall spend next winter abroad." 

Lucy turned a little paler, and looked up 
quickly, but said nothing. 

" Miss Feltham will not accompany us ; 
Sir Lionel thinks it time that she should rest 
from her labours. She will probably go to 
live with some of her own family, and retire 
from teaching altogether." 

Lady Charlotte pausing here, Lucy asked 
her, "Is that what my uncle wished you to 
say to me ? " 

" He wished me to make you understand 
that Enderby Court w r ill be shut up for the 
winter." 

" I understand that," answered Lucy. 

Something in her tone irritated Lady 
Charlotte. She threw back her head in her 
VOL. i. 15 



226 MADAME LEROUX. 

haughtiest fashion as she replied, "Mr. Shard 
also begged me to tell you that I had given 
him my advice as to what had best be done 
for you. He is a very respectable and 
sensible man, and I did not refuse ; but I 
warned him that my approval would probably 
not weigh with you." She stopped here, as 
if expecting Lucy to protest ; but the latter 
remaining silent, her ladyship went on. " Mr. 
Shard asked me what I thought of your 
getting a situation as teacher in a good 
school. I told him I thought the idea an 
excellent one. Beyond that, of course, I 
cannot interfere. Your own view of the 
matter you will, no doubt, communicate to 
Mr. Shard ; I have told you what he 
desired." 

Lucy rose up from her chair. " I wish 
to earn my bread," she said, clasping her 
hands together, and speaking in a low, 
strained voice. " I mean to earn my bread/' 

" One moment, if you please !" exclaimed 
Lady Charlotte, stretching out her finely- 
modelled hand and arm, from which the 
black-lace sleeve fell back in the movement. 



MADAME LEROUX. 227 

" I have complied with Mr. Shard's request 
Now I wish to say something from myself.'* 
Here she made a long pause, keeping her 
hand stretched out to detain Lucy, and her 
eyes fixed thoughtfully on the carpet. Now 
that her will was about to prevail, she would 
fain have said a word of kindness to the 
girl. Victory for her own views, plans, and 
caprices must be gained at all costs. But 
that once achieved, she had no delight in 
inflicting pain. And she felt herself ill-used 
if outward submission to her will were ac- 
companied by an internal protest against it. 

At length she looked up, and said, speak- 
ing in a far gentler manner than before, "My 
niece is much attached to you, and I am 
willing to believe the attachment is mutual. 
Indeed, I am sure that you are very fond of 
Mildred. It would be strange if you were 
not." 

" It would be incredible, Lady Charlotte. 
No one could believe it." 

" Nevertheless, your paths in life must 
inevitably diverge as the years go on. I do 
not say that you will never meet ; but, 



228 MADAME LEROUX. 



naturally, it is impossible that you should be 
always together." 

Lucy bent her head without speaking. 

" Now, Mildred is much younger than 
you are, and not so well able to realize the 
necessity you are under of of establishing 
yourself in some respectable situation. If 
you wish to spare her unavailing regrets, you 
will make the best, and not the worst, of the 
position. I presume you understand me?" 
added Lady Charlotte, after vainly waiting 
some seconds for a reply. 

"Yes; I believe I thoroughly understand 
you." 

" No doubt it will be painful to you to 
leave Enderby Court. I quite enter into 
that feeling. You may rely upon it that Sir 
Lionel and I will always be ready to assist 
you and to promote your welfare." 

But Lucy, although she could make a 
sacrifice, was unable to pretend that it was 
no sacrifice at all. Her indignation against 
Lady Charlotte flamed out suddenly. One 
word of appeal ad misericordiam would have 
touched Lady Charlotte at that moment, and 



MADAME LEROUX. 229 



might have changed the whole course of sub- 
sequent events. But Lucy was far too hotly 
indignant to make it. She stood up opposite 
to the great lady, pale and trembling with 
emotion, but quite undaunted. 

" I know I may rely on Sir Lionel's kind- 
ness, I have known it all my life," she said, 
haughtily. 

Lady Charlotte absolutely made an effort 
of self-control, and replied, with mildness 

" And you do not think that I also wish 
to befriend you ? " 

" I cannot tell a falsehood. You have 
never been kind to me, Lady Charlotte ; 1 
think you have treated me harshly and un- 
justly. But you need not be afraid that I 
shall ever say so to Mildred, or that I shall 
try to make her more unhappy than she must 
be at first in parting from me. I love her 
too well for that. It would be very mean and 
selfish to complain to her of what she cannot 
help. I am not ungrateful by nature I know 
I am not ; but I feel no gratitude to you, 
Lady Charlotte, for throwing me a kind word 
now, just at the last, after having acted so 



230 MADAME LEROUX. 

cruelly as you have done ; and I do not 
believe you care one straw what becomes of 



me." 



And Lucy marched out of the room with 
head erect and eyes flashing-, to burst into a 
passion of bitter tears inside the locked door 
of her chamber. 

But she did not lack courage, and after 
the first outbreak of feeling she resolved to 
look the future steadily, if not cheerfully in 
the face. It was no hardship to earn her 
bread; it seemed to her, indeed, a far happier 
lot than to pass her days as an inmate of the 
Shard household. They should all see that 
she was neither selfish nor cowardly. She 
would make no appeal for sympathy ; she 
would beg for no man's compassion. She 
behaved with a firmness that surprised Mr. 
Shard. The truth was, that her indignation 
against Lady Charlotte helped her marvel- 
lously to keep a brave front. She could 
harden herself against hardness but a 
tender word, or a loving look, would have 
broken the poor child down. 

It does not concern this chronicle to 



MADAME LEROUX. 231 

inquire particularly what law business de- 
manded Mr. Shard's presence in London 
two days after his second interview with 
Lady Charlotte. That he had some, appeared 
by the fact of his charging the cost of his 
journey, among other items, to two or three 
clients doubtless to their ultimate advan- 
tage. But he also had a private and personal 
motive for going to town at this period, and 
for visiting his cousin Adolphus in his 
" office" at Great Portland Street. 

Mr. Shard travelled light on these occa- 
sions a small bag of some black glazed 
material, which he carried in his hand, 
usually comprising the whole of his luggage. 
In this easy marching order he appeared in 
Great Portland Street, where his cousin 
made him welcome in the dark den on the 
ground floor, and regaled him with a feast 
of reason and a flow of London porter from 
.a pewter pot. 

The popping of champagne corks had 
been heard there often enough ; but the 
present was a season of temporary eclipse 
with Mr. Hawkins. That gentleman, how- 



232 MADAME LEROUX. 



ever, with the true instinct of hospitality,, 
shared whatever liquor was going with his 
friends, quite regardless of ostentation. 
Partly, no doubt, from a more genial 
temperament, and partly, also, from the habit 
of a life whose motto and practice was Carpe 
diem, Mr. Hawkins never indulged in those 
minutiae of covetousness and avarice which 
occupied so large a share of Mr. Shard's 
attention. He was greedy enough in theory,, 
but in practice his greed was a sieve, through 
which small sums were sifted and disap- 
peared ; and in which no big golden nuggets 
had as yet been caught although Mr. 
Hawkins was sanguine of netting thousands 
of pounds sterling by every fresh speculation. 
Herein, as in most other characteristics, 
he differed entirely from our friend Jacob 
Shard. Mr. Hawkins had begun his educa- 
tion at Eton, and although it had been 
abruptly broken off before he was sixteen, 
yet some flavour of those days still clung to 
him. He had passed many years of his 
youth on the Continent (whither his father, a 
wine merchant in a large way of business,, 



MADAME LEROUX. 235 

had retired after a bankruptcy which his 
angry creditors had called fraudulent), and 
Adolphus spoke French and Spanish 
fluently. 

In person, also, the two cousins were 
sharply contrasted : their only point of re- 
semblance being in the shape and colour of 
their light grey eyes, and a way of creasing 
up the lower eyelid when they smiled or 
laughed. Shard was tall, loose-jointed, and 
shambling ; dishevelled about the head, and 
grimy about the hands. Hawkins was of the 
middle height, compactly built, close cropped 
as a soldier, clean-shaven as a comedian, 
and with white, well-cared-for, rather flaccid- 
looking hands, on whose fingers he wore one 
or two handsome cameo rings. 

The convivial stage of their interview 
was not reached until after office hours. Up 
to four o'clock, once a week, the agent and 
secretary to the Pelican Beneficent Private 
Loan Society was bound to attend to the 
business of that admirable institution. This 
day happening to be Wednesday the same 
which Mr. Shard had chosen for his visit 



234 MADAME LEROUX. 

his cousin bade him ensconce himself in a 
corner, and gave him a copy of the day 
before yesterday's Times to beguile his half- 
hour of waiting. But Shard, hidden behind 
the printed sheet, watched with unwinking 
keenness every detail of the several inter- 
views which he witnessed. 

While he sat there, as many as half-a- 
dozen persons, carrying little yellow account 
books, dropped in. These were the last 
stragglers. The great bulk of visitors had 
come and gone long ago. Almost all the 
borrowers belonged to the shabby-genteel 
classes ; but they exhibited a great variety 
of character and demeanour. Some who 
brought the full interest on their loan de- 
posited it with a heavy sigh and wistful 
look on the ledge of Mr. Hawkins's desk. 
Others held whispered conversations with 
him, pleading for time. Most of them had 
a harassed, depressed, and hopeless look, as 
they turned to leave the office. But one 
stout lady, very florid of face and dazzling 
in attire, volubly declared her inability to 
pay what she owed within thirty shillings^ 



MADAME LEROUX. 235 

and announced her intention of " making it 
hot " for somebody if she were hardly 
pressed. 

" Don't tell me about directors and 
boards, Mr. 'Awkins," said this dame, 
" that's all gammon, and you know it, and I 
know it, and you know that I know it. The 
whole plant is a speculation of the old party 
in Lamb's Conduit Street, and he's board, 
and treasurer, and auditor, and director, and 
everything else. Talk of Jews ! I pity any 
poor innocent Jew that falls into his claws 
and clutches, that's all -I know ! Pretty kind 
of usury, ain't it ? Somewhere about a 
hundred and fifty per cent. I should think, 
when you come to reckon up his charges for 
the books worth about twopence-halfpenny 
a gross, to look at 'em ! and the secretary 
that's you, Mr. 'Awkins ; but I daresay you 
don't get fat on it. Trust our friend in Lamb's 
Conduit Street for that ! and stamps, and 
stationery, and inquiries, and reports, and all 
manner of humbug. I was a fool to have 
anything to do with your blessed Pelican 
cormorant's more like it! I've paid up fair 



236 MADAME LEROUX. 

and square so far, and if I'm thirty shillings 
short this month, I don't care who knows it. 
And if our friend in Lamb's Conduit Street 
tries to put the screw on, or come any of his 
games with me, I'll tell my husband, and 
he'll write to the papers and show up the 
whole caboodle ; and old Shylock won't like 
that, for certain good reasons best known to 
himself, and so you may tell him, Mr. 
'Awkins, with my compliments." And the 
angry woman, whose eloquence had flushed 
her cheeks with a glow which made her 
rouge superfluous, flounced out of the little 
back room, and along the passage, and out 
at the front door, which she closed with a 
vigorous bang, that made the house vibrate. 

Shard looked out from behind his paper, 
screwing up his eyes, and drawing up his 
shoulders with the action of a man trying to 
dodge a blow. " Who's your friend ? " said 
he. " Powerful speaker, and no mistake ! " 

Mr. Hawkins smiled slightly, as he 
gathered up his papers and locked them in 
his desk. " She's the wife of a publican," he 
answered, "and by no means a bad sort of 



MADAME LEROUX. 237 

woman. She has a scapegrace son by a 
former marriage, and came to us to borrow 
twenty pounds unknown to her present hus- 
band, to help the lad out of a tight place. 
One way and another she has paid the loan, 
principal and interest, twice over. But she 
appears to be getting tired of the Pelican's 
playful ways. I don't think our friend in Lamb's 
Conduit Street will get much more out of 
Mrs. Bruin that's her euphonious name." 

" I suppose, then, that what she said 
about the company consisting of one man is 
pretty true, eh ? " 

Hawkins nodded carelessly. 

" It must be a snug sort of business for 
a quiet party of retiring habits to be a Bene- 
ficent Pelican," observed Shard, thoughtfully. 

" It's an infernally low sort of business to 
be a Beneficent Pelican's secretary," returned 
his cousin. " However, that's the last of 
'em for to-day, please the pigs ! And now I 
can attend to you quietly." 

Mr. Hawkins had already written to 
Westfield, stating that he had no doubt of 
being able to find a suitable place for Lucy ; 



238 MADAME LEROUX. 

and he now repeated this assurance, setting 
forth how many advantages his extensive 
connection gave him for this purpose. "My 
wife has occasionally given lessons herself in 
very first-class quarters," he said ; " and you 
couldn't have a better introduction than hers."" 

This was all very well ; but Shard desired 
to know how soon the matter was likely to 
be settled. 

"Is there any particular hurry?" asked 
Mr. Hawkins. 

"Well, yes, there is," answered his 
cousin ; for it had been understood, if not ex- 
pressed, between himself and Lady Char- 
lotte that it was desirable to get Lucy away 
before Mildred's return to the Court. 

" Who is the girl ? " asked Hawkins. 

"An orphan, whom my wife's sister and 
her husband chose to adopt, and then left on 
my hands without a penny to bless herself 
with." 

" Oh ! No relation of yours ? " 

" None in the world. It's rather hard on 
me. I've been at a good deal of expense 
for her as it is, one way and another. How- 



MADAME LEROUX. 239 

ever, as long as the family at the Court 
our big people down at Westfield were 
there, she was, to a considerable extent, off 
my hands ; for they took a good deal of 
notice of her, and had her there for weeks 
at a time. But they're going abroad, and 
she's left high and dry ; so it is absolutely 
necessary to get her something to do. 
Charity begins at home. I've plenty to do 
with my hard-earned income without sup- 
porting other folks' children that are neither 
kith nor kin to me." 

" Of course ! " assented Mr. Hawkins,, 
with a keen, quick glance at the other man. 
Then he added, after an instant's hesitation, 
" I suppose there's nothing wrong with the 
girl in any way ? " 

" Wrong with her! What should be 
wrong with her? She's as good a girl as 
ever breathed ; and a perfect lady into the 
bargain. I tell you she's an intimate friend 
of the biggest swells in the county." 

" All right, all right ! " 

" First rate education, too, as I wrote to 
you. Mrs. Hawkins needn't be afraid of 



240 MADAME LEROUX. 

cutting a bad figure by recommending her ; 
don't make any mistake about that ! It'll be 
a feather in her cap, I can tell you. School- 
mistresses don't often have a chance of 
getting hold of such a first-class kind of 
girl as Lucy." 

" Lucy, eh ? What's her other name ? " 

" Smith," answered Mr. Shard. " Lucy 
Smith. That was her parents' name, and 
the only one she's a right to." 

" Good safe name, Smith," observed Mr. 
Hawkins, carelessly. Then, after a little 
silent reflection, he said, " Look here ! Why 
shouldn't the girl come to us at once ? My 
wife would look after her for a week or two ; 
and she's sure to be able to place her within 
that time. Safe as the day! Indeed, two 
or three opportunities have offered already. 
But Marie is particular. She'll pick and 
choose." 

The fact was that the premium offered in 
one of Mr. Shard's letters had been so hand- 
some that Hawkins was unwilling to let the 
affair slip through his fingers. He knew 
his cousin well enough to feel sure that the 



MADAME LEROUX. 241 

money would not come out of his pocket ; and 
if there were rich people in the background, 
the connection might be a valuable one. 

Shard jumped at the proposal. And the 
only part of the negotiation which remained 
to be concluded was the sum to be paid to 
the Hawkins's for their services. As to this, 
a good deal of haggling ensued. The price 
asked for Lucy's board was agreed to with- 
out much difficulty. But the percentage on 
the premium to be paid for Lucy's reception 
into a good school was the subject of a 
tougher battle. And let it not be supposed 
that Jacob Shard was fighting to spare Sir 
Lionel's purse. No one had more liberal 
ideas than he on the subject of other people's 
expenditure. But he intended to get some- 
thing for himself out of the transaction ; and 
reflected, with great justice, that the more 
the Hawkins's had, the less would remain 
for him ! 

However, after some discussion, they 
came to terms, and the bargain was struck. 
And then Mr. Hawkins invited his cousin to 
come upstairs and see " Marie." 

VOL. i. 1 6 



CHAPTER XIV. 

As the two men ascended the stairs to the 
first-floor, the sounds of a piano, brilliantly 
played, were heard ; and it was, moreover, 
evident that some one was dancing there. 
The music and the dancing stopped simul- 
taneously, as Mr. Hawkins threw open the 
drawing-room door. 

It was a good-sized room, with furniture 
which had once been handsome, but was 
sadly the -worse for wear. The chairs, and 
one or two light tables, were pushed back 
against the wall, so as to leave a clear space 
in the middle of the room. 

At the piano was seated a pretty woman 
of about thirty years old, with a piquant 
little turned-up nose, and a wide, fair fore- 
head, from which the hair was drawn back, 

r *4?i 



MADAME LEROUX. 243 

and piled in elaborate coils and curls of 
shining bronze on the top of her head. 
This style of head-dress, which displayed 
the smooth brow, together with a pair of 
widely opened, light blue eyes, gave her face 
an engaging expression of almost infantine 
candour. Her dress, of a dark green woollen 
material, was plain, but admirably cut ; and 
on her plump white fingers sparkled several 
costly rings. 

The two persons whose dancing had 
been thus suddenly interrupted by Mr. 
Hawkins's entrance stood in the centre of the 
room ; the lady's hand still on her partner's 
shoulder. The said partner was a slender, 
gracefully-built man, with remarkably small 
and delicate hands and feet. His dark, 
mobile, and intelligent face was lighted by 
a pair of singularly brilliant eyes which 
sparkled underneath a bush of wavy jet 
black hair. The lady was a girl little over 
twenty. Her face was plain, and of an 
Asiatic type high cheek-boned, wide across 
the temples, sallow in colour, and with 
narrow dark eyes set somewhat obliquely in 



244 MADAME LEROUX. 



the head. But her figure was exquisitely 
proportioned, and she was remarkably 
graceful. 

Jacob Shard thought this a very queer 
trio, and glanced furtively from one to the 
other, in some embarrassment. But there 
was no trace of embarrassment in any other 
member of the party. 

" Oh it's you, Uncle Adolphe !" said the 
girl. " I was just trying to teach Zephany 
the new waltz step. If he goes to this big 
City ball to-morrow, he ought to know it." 

" Sorry to interrupt such important 
business," returned Mr. Hawkins. 

And then he said a few words in Spanish 
to the man, who laughed, showing a magni- 
ficent range of white, short, faultlessly even 
teeth, and retired to one of the long windows 
opening on to a balcony, where the young 
lady presently joined him. The lady at the 
piano rose, and came forward. 

" This is my cousin, Jacob Shard, Marie/' 
said Hawkins. " I don't remember whether 
you have ever met my wife, Shard ? " 

Mrs. Hawkins bowed, smiled, and held 



MADAME LEROUX . 245 

out her pretty hand. " How do you do ? I 
am very glad to see you," said she, speaking 
with the faintest imaginable foreign accent. 

" Mr. Shard and I have been settling 
that affair about the young lady who wants 
to be a teacher," said her husband. 

" Oh yes?" 

" I had to drive a hard bargain on your 
behalf, Marie, I can tell you ! " pursued Mr. 
Hawkins, jocularly. " I told him the matter 
was chiefly in your hands ; and that you 
would expect a proper remuneration for your 
trouble. But Shard, here, is an awful 
screw ! " 

" I wish you were an awful screw, 
Adolphe. / am, or I don't know what would 
become of us," observed the lady, in flute- 
like tones. 

" There, you see I was right ! Marie 
insists on her bond," said Hawkins, with an 
amused smile at his cousin. 

" Dame ! Je crois bien ! " exclaimed 
Marie. 

" My cousin doesn't speak French, my 
dear. And " with a glance at Shard's 



246 MADAME LEROUX. 

startled face " I think you had better stick 
to English in talking with him, or he may 
fancy you're saying I don't know what ! " 

There was a general burst of laughter at 
this ; for it was clear Mr. Shard had mistaken 
the lady's exclamation for an English 
expletive not commonly obtruded on ears 
polite. 

Shard was confused. These people 
puzzled him. They were of a kind which 
had hitherto not come within his experience. 
Mrs. Hawkins, however, exerted herself to 
set him at his ease ; and, to a great extent,, 
she succeeded. Her method was simple. 
She displayed a sustained interest in hearing 
Mr. Shard talk about himself. 

At length he declared he must go, having 
a business appointment in Gray's Inn ; and 
Mr. Hawkins volunteered to walk part of the 
way with him. " And," said he, "since you 
don't return to the country to-night, come 
back and eat a bit of dinner with us at eight 
o'clock. Marie will expect you." 

" Oh, yes ; I hope you will come. As 
to what you would call dinner, I cannot 



MADAME LEROUX. 247 

promise. But there will be something to 
eat and something to drink," said Marie, 
placidly. 

"And by that time Fatima will have 
finished her dancing lesson, and be ready to 
talk to you about your prottgde, Miss Lucy 
Smith. The two girls will make friends, I 
have no doubt." 

The cousins went down stairs together, 
after Shard had willingly promised to return 
at eight o'clock. "Have a weed?" said 
Hawkins, stepping into his office and rum- 
maging out a bundle of cigars from beneath 
some papers in a drawer. " I think you'll 
say that's an uncommonly neat article. 
Never paid duty ; but that don't spoil the 
flavour." 

" What a remarkably charming woman 
your wife is, Dolph ! " said Mr. Shard, as he 
struck a light. 

" Right you are ! She's an uncommonly 
gifted creature, is Marie. Terribly lost, poor 
girl, in our present position. But we mean, 
in the words of the poet, to * Wait till the 
clouds roll by,' and between you and 



24.8 MADAME LEROUX. 

me, I don't think we shall have to wait 
long." 

" Is Mrs. Hawkins an Englishwoman ? " 

"Oh, yes; English born. But she was 
educated in Paris." 

" And that young lady Miss what was 
it you called her ? " 

Mr. Hawkins was biting at the end of 
his cigar and answered through his teeth, 
" Oh, Fatima ? Connection of Marie's by 
the father's side. Indian blood in her veins, 
as you can see. Confound these matches ! 
They're all damp." 

Mr. Shard's curiosity was not yet 
appeased, and he pursued his interrogations 
as the tw r o men walked along the street 
together. u I suppose," said he, peering 
sideways at his cousin, " that's she's engaged 
to that foreign gentleman ? " 

Hawkins burst out laughing. " Engaged ! 
Lord bless your heart, nothing of the sort ! 
Zephany's old enough to be her father, and 
has known her ever since she was in short 
petticoats. Besides, Fatima must marry a 
man with some money, if she ever marries 



MADAME LEROUX. 249 

at all. And Zephany is at the present 
moment down on his luck. He's lodging 
with us. Very clever fellow. I'll go with 
you to the end of the street." 

After walking a few paces, smoking in 
silence, Shard inquired, "What nation does 
he belong to ? " 

"Humph! Well, that's rather a puzzle. 
There's a Hebrew strain in him ; and I 
fancy a little Arab. But his father was a 
German ; mother a Spaniard ; born at 
Gibraltar ; brought up in Europe, Asia, 
and Africa generally ; speaks sixteen 
languages. You must settle his nationality 
for yourself." 

" Sixteen languages ! " echoed Shard in 
amazement. 

" Ten of 'em like a native. Bye-bye ! 
See you at eight." 

Mr. Hawkins waved his hand and turned 
away. Jacob Shard proceeded towards 
Gray's Inn with his mind a good deal 
bewildered. He was familiar with a great 
many varieties of the respectable classes; 
and with not a few of the criminal ones. But 



250 MADAME LEROUX. 

Bohemia was as utterly unknown to him as 
the other side of the moon. Its inhabitants, 
on this first view of them, appeared to have 
agreeable manners, and to be given to 
hospitality. Their easy exercise of this 
virtue would have excited his contempt more 
strongly had he not recollected Dolph's 
keenness about the bargain, and Marie's 
frankly-expressed determination to get all 
she could out of it. 

Then he thought of the dancing lesson ; 
of Fatima, with her Asiatic face and out- 
landish name ; of Dolph's stormy interview 
with Mrs. Bruin downstairs, while his wife's 
jewelled fingers were rattling through a 
brilliant waltz in the drawing-room ; and the 
upshot of his meditations was formulated in 
the following sentence, which he repeated to 
himself more than once : 

" Take 'em in the lump, they're as rum a 
lot as I ever came across in my life ; if not 
rummer ! " 

This opinion was not modified by the 
entertainment he found awaiting him at eight 
o'clock. The table was spread in a parlour 



MADAME LEROUX. 251 

on the ground-floor, behind which was the 
office. The furniture in this room, like that 
in the drawing-room, had once been costly ; 
but was now desperately shabby, soiled, and 
worn. Nevertheless the cloth was white, and 
the table appointments although no two 
articles appeared to belong to each other 
looked bright and clean ; and there was a 
goodly array of bottles on the sideboard. 

Fatima, who entered the room, just as 
the company was sitting down to table, 
appeared with a flush on her sallow face, 
due to the action of the kitchen-fire. 

"There was rather short commons," 
explained the mistress of the house, not at 
all apologetically, but just as she might have 
remarked that it had begun to rain. " And 
Fatima volunteered to make us an omelette 
au jamb on. It's one of the things she doe s 
best. I hope you can eat it, Mr. Shard, 
because there is nothing else except some 
cold roast mutton. Oh, yes ; by the way, 
there is half a terrine of pate 1 de foie gras 
somewhere in the sideboard. Get it out r 
will you, Adolphe ? " 



MADAME LEROUX. 



Marie presided over this heterogeneous 
repast with as much graceful self-possession 
as though it had been a dinner complete 
enough at all points to satisfy the eyes of 
Mrs. Grundy and the palate of Brillat 
Savarin. 

She had changed her dress ; and looked 
very charming in a black silk gown made 
open at the throat, and sparingly trimmed 
with some very fine old lace. Fatima was 
much shabbier ; but she, too, had smartened 
her attire, and wore a knot of scarlet ribbon 
in the wonderfully massive plaits of her blue- 
black hair. 

The man whom Shard had seen in the 
morning was present, and was introduced as 
Monsieur Ferdinand Zephany. And when 
they were half-way through dinner, there 
entered a big, bullet-headed Irishman, with 
cropped hair and a heavy moustache, who 
looked like a private of dragoons, but who 
was, it appeared, a literary and artistic 
character, of versatile talents, rejoicing in 
the name of Harrington Jersey. But this, 
.as Mr. Hawkins explained in a whisper to 



MADAME LEROUX. 253 

his cousin, was not his real appellation, 
" Merely a nom de guerre, you know. 
Sounds well. I fancy his father was called 
Mulrooney. But I'm not sure, and it don't 
matter." 

The new comer was bidden to take a 
plate and knife and fork for himself from the 
sideboard ; which he did in an easy, matter- 
of-course way. The servant-maid had dis- 
appeared after bringing in the dishes, and 
the guests were left to help themselves and 
each other to the food before them. 

The novelty of the scene, and of the 
society, did not prevent Mr. Shard from 
eating a very sufficient dinner. There was 
plenty of variety in the liquors furnished. 
Besides bitter beer and stout, there were 
several odd bottles of wine of different 
vintages, and finally, with some excellent 
black coffee which Fatima slipped out of 
the room to prepare with her own hands 
there was handed round a bottle of old 
Cognac by way of liqueur. 

Mr. Shard grew quite hilarious towards 
the end of the repast. The food and drink 



^ 54 MADAME LEROUX. 

had been very much to his liking, and he 
was not fastidious as to the manner of 
serving it. But what diffused a peculiar 
glow of satisfaction over the whole entertain- 
ment was the fact that he was partaking of it 
.gratis : Mr. Shard being persuaded that the 
true secret of convivial enjoyment is to feast 
at some one else's expense. 

But he was not too much engrossed with 
his dinner to listen to all that he could catch 
of the conversation going on around him. 
One name which he heard mentioned very 
frequently was that of a certain Frampton 
Fennell, whom Mr. Jersey appeared to hate 
undisguisedly. Mrs. Hawkins twitted Jersey 
with being jealous of this person, and there 
was a good deal of jesting and sparring 
between them. 

" Who's this, now, eh ?" asked Shard, of 
his neighbour Fatima, who answered his 
questions with perfect civility. 

"A critic," said Fatima. 

" Oh ! Great man, eh ? " 

" No ; he does not write for any 
important publication. I shouldn't think it 



MADAME LEROUX 255 

matters much what he says. Only Jersey 
and he always quarrel." 

"Is it jealous?" burst out Mr. Jersey's 
robust tenor voice, at this moment. " Me 
jealous of Frumpy Fennell ? Faith, Mrs. 
Hawkins, if you'd tell him that, you'd ad- 
minister the biggest lump of blarney that's 
ever gone down even his greedy gullet." 

" You ought not to abuse him, when you 
know there is such a great friendship 
between him and the Leroux," said Marie, 
smiling archly at him across the table. 

" Friendship, indeed ! 'Tis all on one 
side then, like the Bridgenorth election ! No, 
no ; he may brag as he likes, but Madame 
has far too much brains to be taken in by 
that vapouring vain little villain. She's the 
cleverest woman I ever met with in all my 
life present company always excepted." 

" Oh, you need not make that exception, 
I don't set up to be clever." 

" I beg your pardon, Mrs. Hawkins/' 
answered Jersey, gravely, "but you misunder- 
stood me. 'Twas Fatima I was thinking of." 

There was a general laugh at Marie's 



256 MADAME LEROUX. 

expense, in which she joined with perfect 
good humour. " I had agac^d you, and tit 
for tat is all fair," said she, shrugging her 
pretty shoulders. 

" Hear, hear!" cried Jacob Shard, in a 
high-pitched falsetto. " Capital ! That's the 
way to take things ! " Then in a lower key, 
confidentially to his neighbour, "A woman 
with temper and tact like your aunt's might 
do any mortal thing she'd a mind to." 

" Marie is my cousin," corrected Fatima. 

" Cousin, is she ? But I thought you 
called Dolph ' Uncle !'" 

''Yes; because he is so much older than 
either of us." 

'"Oh, that's it, is it? Well, your cousin 
is superior to the generality of her sex in one 
respect if you'll excuse me for saying so. 
Women are apt to be huffy. That's a great 
weakness. There's no greater obstacle to 
making your way in the world than being 
huffy. But Mrs. Hawkins knows better. 
Remarkably charming woman, indeed ! And 
this clever lady they're talking about now 
I'd lay a wager she's not cleverer than your 



MADAME LEROUX. 257 

cousin ! this Madame Looroo, or whatever 
they call her who may she be ? " 

" Madame Leroux ? She is a very 
brilliant woman. Every one says so. She's 
at the head of a fashionable school." 

" Oh ! Widow, I conclude, from their 
talking about her admirers, eh ? " 

Poor Fatima's experience of life in the 
Hawkins' household had taught her to look 
on the truth as something dangerous and 
disintegrating something which might blow 
them all into the air like gunpowder, if 
rashly uncovered, or handled without due 
precautions. She already had some mis- 
giving that she had been too frank. 
Therefore, instead of making any categorical 
answer to Mr. Shard, she made a little 
movement of the head, which he might 
interpret as he pleased, and murmuring 
something about seeing to the lights in the 
drawing-room, she rose from her chair and 
quietly left the room. 

The rest of the evening passed in a 
manner equally agreeable to Mr. Shard. 
When the company went upstairs, there 
VOL. i. 17 



258 MADAME LEROUX. 

was music. Mrs. Hawkins sang French 
chansonnettes with a tiny thread of voice, 
but with great expression and vivacity. 
Mr. Jersey gave them some of Moore's 
Irish ballads, and Fatima played the 
piano with verve, although not much 
science. 

This concert might not have proved so 
enjoyable to Mr. Shard, but for the circum- 
stance that he was allowed to smoke while 
he listened to it. All the men smoked Mr. 
Jersey a meerschaum, Mr. Hawkins a cigar, 
and Zephany a delicately fragrant cigarette. 
It certainly was rather a shock to the lawyer 
to see Marie and Fatima each accept a 
cigarette from Zephany's case, and proceed 
to smoke it with perfect nonchalance. But 
he set down the proceeding to foreign 
manners, and condoned it. 

It appeared to him, from all the con- 
versation he heard, that the Hawkins's 
acquaintance comprised a great number of 
accomplished and distinguished persons. 
He had no criterion by which to judge their 
pretensions, and was credulous enough in 



MADAME LEROUX. 



259 



some departments of human thought. The 
two conditions which at once aroused his 
hostile suspicion were being required to 
believe in noble motives, and being asked 
for money. 




CHAPTER XV. 

IT was the middle of July, and Mildred 
Enderby was still at her uncle's house, Grim- 
stock Park, where she received a letter from 
Lucy. Mildred had written to her friend 
on first hearing the news of her approaching 
departure from Westfield (which had been 
conveyed to her by Lady Charlotte, and 
strongly tinged with Lady Charlotte's view 
of the matter), a letter full of reproaches 
and sorrow, and wonder and affection. Why 
did Lucy go away ? How could she bear to 
leave them ? and so on ; and ending by be- 
seeching her to return forthwith to Enderby 
Court, which was, and always should be, her 
real home. 

This epistle would scarcely have been 
allowed to depart without some comments 
[ 260 ] 



MADAME LEROUX. 261 

had it been written within the sphere of 
Lady Charlotte's personal influence. But 
Lady Grimstock did not interfere with her 
niece's correspondence ; nor, in truth, trouble 
herself at all about the matter. 

The letter had been sent, under cover, to 
Mr. Shard, who duly forwarded it ; and the 
reply to it cost Lucy some tears and much 
careful weighing of words. She had quite 
understood the force of Lady Charlotte's ap- 
peal to her to " make the best, and not the 
worst, of the position." It was an implied 
admission of her power. But there was no 
fear that Lucy should seek to use it, at the 
cost of making Mildred unhappy or bringing 
jars and discords into Sir Lionel's peaceful 
life. 

Therefore, in writing her letter, she had 
done her best to put her position in the 
pleasantest and most cheerful light. 

"You must not talk of never being 
happy without me," she wrote. " Of course 
you will be happy. We shall both be happy. 
What has been done is right, and will be for 
the best. I have no right to be idle and 



262 MADAME LEROUX. 

useless, even if I wished it which I don't. 
Remember that I am a waif and a stray, 
with no valid claim on any human being 
whom I know. I am not bemoaning myself, 
mind ! I know how many good things have 
come to me for which I ought to be grate- 
ful for which I am grateful. Among the 
good things I reckon the will to work and 
the opportunity of working. But the best 
good thing of all is a dear, dear sister Mildred, 
who loves me. Besides, we are not so far 
divided! It seemed a much more terrible 
distance from Westfield to London than it 
does from London to Westfield ! Is there 
not a penny post in the land ? And the rail- 
way would carry you to me, or me to you, 
in less time than you often spend in an after- 
noon's drive. Really, I am ashamed when 
I catch myself thinking of this as a serious 
separation ! 

"It is too early yet to tell you much of 
my new life ; but I will say at once for I 
know exactly what you are thinking and 
feeling that Mr. Hawkins, in whose house I 
now am, is not in the least like Mr. Shard 



MADAME LEROUX. 263 

neither in looks, nor manner, nor education, 
nor so far as I can judge on a brief 
acquaintance in character, does he resemble 
him, although they are relations. Mrs. 
Hawkins is much younger than her 
husband very pretty, very engaging, and 
not at all vulgar ; and there is a girl called 
Fatima, whose room I share, and who is 
very good-natured. I have found out by 
asking the question that her due style and 
title is Miss Loring. But nobody seems to 
call her anything else than Fatima. They 
all talk French admirably well ; and there is 
a gentleman staying in the house who is a 
wonderful linguist ; and they have a tolerable 
piano, on which I may practise as much as I 
like. So I shall be able to rub up my small 
acquirements and keep, them bright and 
shining for immediate use directly any 
judicious schoolmistress has the penetration 
to discern my merits and snap me up. 

" Of course, everything here is very 
different from Enderby Court ; but it is 
amusing to see so much that is new. The 
Hawkins's know a great many people who 



264 MADAME LEROUX. 

write, and paint, and sing, and play I mean? 
whose profession it is to do those things. 
And of course that is all very interesting^ 
to a country mouse like me ! 

" Good-bye, dearest Mildred! I will 
write to you again soon. You must address 
me as Miss Smith ; that is my own name, 
you know. I found that Mrs. Hawkins 
knew me by no other. Perhaps Mr. Shard 
feared that if I kept his brother-in-law's 
name I might make some claim on him as 
his niece, or his wife's niece! In any case, I 
am more than willing to bear my parents' 
name, humble as it is ; I am not ashamed 
of it. 

" God bless you, dear. Pray, pray do- 
not fret, or be uneasy about me ; I am quite 
well, and eager to begin work. If the people 
I have met hitherto are fair specimens, the 
world cannot surely be so hard and cruel as 
it is painted ! For every one is very kind tc* 
me. Your ever faithful and affectionate 

-Lucy." 

But although she thus put the best face 



MADAME LEROUX. 265: 

she could on the matter, she had, neverthe- 
less, felt most drearily forlorn on her first 
introduction into the household in Great 
Portland Street. 

She had reached it about eight o'clock in 
the evening, having driven there alone from 
the railway station. There was some tea and 
cold meat prepared for her in the dining- 
room, over which refreshment Fatima pre- 
sided, looking rather glum and distraite. 
Mrs. Hawkins had had a private box given to- 
her, and was gone to the play ; Mr. Hawkins- 
left many apologies for not having gone to- 
the station to meet Miss Smith, but he had 
been unexpectedly called away on business. 

Lucy was rather relieved at first to find 
a girl near her own age, and gratefully ac- 
cepted the tea which she proffered. But 
although Fatima was too intrinsically sweet- 
tempered to be sulky, she was obviously not 
quite at her ease ; and, moreover, she was 
dressed in attire such as Lucy was well con- 
vinced, from the whole style and aspect of 
the house, was not her ordinary style of 
evening dress. 



266 MADAME LEROUX. 

At length, struck by a sudden idea, Lucy 
said, " Why are you not at the play ? Were 
you not invited to go ? " 

" Oh, yes ; I could go. There's room in 
Marie's box ; but " 

" But you stayed at home on my ac- 
count ? " 

" Oh, it doesn't matter. Uncle Adolphe 
said you would think it so strange to be left 
quite alone the very first moment you arrived. 
I don't mind, really," added Fatima, with 
a genuinely amiable smile illumining her 
plain face. 

" But I mind very much. I am so sorry ! 
I suppose it is too late for you to go now ? " 

" Oh, no ; I could go Zephany would 
take me, I'm sure. But no, never mind ; 
I'll stay with you. It doesn't matter, really." 

Lucy, however, settled the question by 
declaring that she was tired, and should go 
to bed forthwith ; and she begged Fatima to 
lose no time in setting off to the theatre. " I 
would not for the world you should lose such 
a pleasure on my account," she said, warmly. 

A visit to the theatre was not quite the 



MADAME LEROUX. 267 

entrancing delight to Fatima which it seemed 
in Lucy's imagination. Nevertheless, Fatima 
was but twenty ; amusements had a great 
deal of zest for her still ; and it was by no 
means a matter of course that she should be 
allowed to accompany Marie on all occasions. 

"It's awfully nice and good of you ! " she 
-exclaimed gratefully. " And I shan't forget 
it. See if I do ! " 

" I suppose," said Lucy, with a shade of 
hesitation, " that Mrs. Hawkins will think it 
all right for you to go under the escort of 
of Zephany ? " 

She had no idea whether Zephany were 
male or female, a friend, a servant, or a 
relative. 

Fatima opened her long Oriental black 
eyes as widely as they could be opened. " Of 
course ! " she answered, in a tone of complete 
astonishment. " Zephany takes me every- 
where when he has time, and I can get 
hold of him. And he's at home now. I 
heard him come in." 

Then Fatima volunteered to show Lucy 
lier room. " At least," she said, " you will 



268 MADAME LEROUX. 

have to share mine, if you don't mind ; for 
the other bedroom is not furnished. Marie 
had a bed put in my room for you. Shall I 
tell Mary Ann to carry up some hot water 
for you ? " 

In a few minutes Fatima had wrapped 
herself in a white opera cloak which had 
once been whiter and Lucy heard her run 
downstairs and tap at a door on the floor 
below ; and then the sound of a man's voice, 
and presently the wheels of a cab driving 
away from the street-door. 

Lucy was really tired, from the unusual 
strain and excitement of the day ; making a 
railway journey alone was an entirely new 
experience for her. But when she put out 
her candle, and lay down in the little cheap 
iron bedstead provided for her, she remained 
sleepless for hours, listening to the noise of 
London, and, as it were, watching the images 
which seemed to arise capriciously in her 
mind. 

At first she kept seeing over again in 
imagination the new scenes among which she 
found herself; the dingy dining-parlour im- 



MADAME LEROUX. 269 

perfectly lighted by one small lamp ; the 
shabby passage with its worn oil-cloth ; the 
stairs entirely carpetless above the drawing- 
room floor ; and the vision of a slatternly 
servant-maid toiling up them with a flaring 
candle guttering in one hand, and a broken- 
spouted jug of hot water in the'other. Then 
the room in which she lay : untidy, poorly 
furnished, and yet saved from being repulsive 
by its perfect cleanliness, and the sense of as 
much fresh air as was procurable in Great 
Portland Street being admitted into it freely. 
Then the countenance of Fatima, with her 
smooth broad sallow face, and Asiatic eyes, 
and the flash of ivory when she smiled. But 
through her brain, coming and going without 
any control from her volition, under all, she 
was sensible of a dull heartache. 

The feeling of being utterly alone was 
the most immediately oppressive of all her 
troubles, and seemed, at moments, to suffo- 
cate her like a nightmare. But she shut her 
eyes, and clasped her hands, and prayed, 
until peace, and the sense of an unseen Pre- 
sence, fell upon her like dew upon a flower ; 



270 MADAME LEROUX. 

and when Fatima came softly upstairs about 
half an hour after midnight, she found her 
lying in a deep, quiet slumber. 

" She's very pretty," murmured Fatima, 
gazing at her. " And she's nice, too. I wish 
she was going to stay with us. At any rate, 

I hope she w T on't go to that horrid Madame 
Leroux. I detest her ! " 

By which it may be seen that Fatima's 
good nature, though wide, was not unlimited; 
and that her sympathies were not bestowed 
quite indiscriminately. 

The next day Lucy, having with some 
difficulty secured an interview with Mr. 
Hawkins for he was full of some new pro- 
ject, and declared himself to be immersed in 
most important business ventured to tell 
him how eager she was to begin w r ork, and 
to express a hope that some place would 
soon be found for her. He assured her that 

II negotiations were pending;" and, as he 
added, " I trust, Miss Smith, you are not so- 
uncomfortable as to object to passing a week 
or ten days with us ? " she felt it would be 
ungracious to show too much impatience. 



MADAME LEROUX. 271 

She privately resolved to wait a fortnight, if 
need were ; and if, at the end of that period, 
she had no engagement, to write to Mr. 
Shard and beg him to intervene. 

Meanwhile she would work at her music 
and languages, and be as cheerful as circum- 
stances would permit. Sad, indeed, must the 
circumstances be which can quench hope and 
the joy of living at eighteen years old ! 

Her temperament was naturally bright 
and buoyant ; and she found a good deal of 
amusement in studying the manners and 
customs of the novel world around her. 

The impression which she herself made 
on the Hawkins household varied in the 
case of each individual composing it. Mr. 
Hawkins pronounced her a charmingly 
pretty girl, and unmistakably a lady. Fatima 
said she was " lovely, and a dear." Mrs. 
Hawkins admitted that she vias gentille, but 
thought she had too much of a daisy-and- 
buttercup air about her; and could not 
believe her transparent truthfulness and 
candour were quite genuine, since she could 
be close enough on some points, when it 



.272 MADAME LEROUX. 

pleased her. But Zephany disposed of this 
without ceremony. 

" Nonsense, Madame," said he brusquely. 
" That's a speech unworthy of a clever woman 
like you. Miss Smith has a sincere nature ; 
but she is neither weak nor silly, and she can 
hold her tongue when she sees occasion." 

Zephany, indeed, was a declared champion 
and admirer of Lucy's behind her back. In 
her presence he was never complimentary ; 
but he rendered her substantial assistance in 
her studies, volunteering to correct her Ger- 
man exercises and talk German with her. 
Lucy at first hesitated to accept his help, and 
privately consulted Mr. Hawkins as to what 
.she ought to do. "He is a teacher of 
languages, you tell me, and of course, not 
rich," she said; "and I have some qualms of 
conscience about taking up his time." 

But Mr. Hawkins reassured her : "You 
need not scruple. Zephany is not given to 
gush. If he says he wants to help you, he 
means it. And, as to his not being rich 
well, I have known things at a very low ebb 
with Zephany very low indeed. But, in 



MADAME LEROUX. 273 



one respect, I consider his circumstances to 
be enviable : he does not owe a farthing in 
the world. And," added Mr. Hawkins with 
an ingenuous sigh, "just think what a 
luxury that must be ! " 

The ways of life in Great Portland Street 
were somewhat slipshod, the hours irregular, 
and the master and mistress as erratic as 
meteors. There were many evidences of 
want of cash, and yet there were no signs of 
any such pinching and saving as Lucy had 
witnessed at the Shards'. The table was 
always plentifully covered, although the 
quality of the viands varied, in a fitful way, 
from salmon, young ducks, and some costly 
French or German vintage, down to slices of 
ham from the cook-shop and bitter beer in 
a jug. 

Fatima would often be commissioned to 
cook something in a hurry, as on the occa- 
sion of Mr. Shard's visit ; and her perform- 
ances were respectable, albeit rather mono- 
tonous ; for, like certain drawing - room 
pianists, her repertoire was limited. But 
now and then Lucy could never understand 
VOL. i. 1 8 



274 MADAME LEROUX. 

whether from sheer caprice or some distinct 
motive Marie would tie on a big apron, slip 
her sparkling rings into her pocket, roll up 
the sleeves from her round white wrists, and 
plunge down stairs into the kitchen ; whence 
there was sure to emerge on such occasions 
one, or perhaps two, exquisitely dainty 
dishes. 

But Marie would not always take that 
trouble. It happened more than once that 
her husband, having invited some one to 
lunch or sup with them, whom he particu- 
larly desired to please, begged her to pre- 
pare some part of the entertainment herself. 
But, as often as not, she would calmly refuse; 
and, when once she had said " No," neither 
arguments nor prayers could move her. 

"Pas du tout, mon cher" she would say 
sweetly. " I am not a cook. I will not 
scorch my face and ruin my complexion for 
jour gr os lourdauds from the City. If they 
are hungry, feed them on beefsteaks." 

At first Lucy found it very embarrassing 
that all these little domestic scenes were 
enacted openly in her presence ; and, which 



MADAME LEROUX. 275 

was worse, that Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins 
would alternately appeal to her from each 
other, as thus : 

" Now, don't you consider it most unkind, 
Miss Smith ? I put it to you as an impartial 
witness. Marie knows the vital importance 
of pleasing old Bliftkins man of immense 
influence in the City (Bliffkins, of Bliffkins 
and Mugg) she knows that, if Bliffkins 
would only let his name be printed on a cer- 
tain prospectus, the project I have in hand 
would turn out a tremendous, overpower- 
ing, colossal success, and make all our for- 
tunes ; and yet she will not stir a finger to 
help me. How do you stigmatise such 
heartlessness, Miss Smith ? It is enough to 
make a man precipitate himself into the 
Thames. By Heaven, it is!" And Mr- 
Hawkins would slap his brow and stride 
tragically up and down the room. 

"Ah! but listen, Miss Smith," Mrs. 
Hawkins would retort, with her forehead 
perfectly smooth, and a becoming little 
dimple in full play at the corner of her 
mouth. "What do you think of Adolphe 



276 MADAME LEROUX. 

expecting me to turn servant, and slave for 
these vulgar creatures, after he has wasted 
all my money, as well as his own, in 
ridiculous speculations ? If I had my dot, 
we should be very well off without Bliffkins. 
Besides, it is all a delusion of Adolphe's. 
Bliffkins will do nothing for him. Ah,je les 
connais ious, vos Bliffkins, allez ! " 

This sort of thing in the beginning 
distressed Lucy unspeakably. But when/ 
she found that similar scenes, far from 
causing domestic ruin, and shattering Mr, 
and Mrs. Hawkins's lives, as she in her 
innocence had anticipated, did not even 
involve any serious loss of temper, nor 
impair for five minutes the serene amiability 
of their behaviour to each other, she ceased 
to take the matter to heart. 

A singular kind of candour reigned in the 
whole family a sort of sincerity turned 
inside out. For it seemed to Lucy that they 
often revealed what it would have been more 
dignified to keep secret, and concealed what 
it would have been more honest to disclose. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

MR. AND MRS. HAWKINS held more than one 
council as to what was to be done with Miss 
Lucy Smith. Marie was bent on placing her 
with Madame Leroux ; her husband did not 
take up this notion so warmly. " I cannot 
think why you should hesitate about it, 
Adolphe," said his wife ; " it is a chance in a 
thousand for the girl a first-rate connection, 
and a charming woman ! " 

" Ye yes; but " 

"Well? But what?" 

" Madame is charming in certain ways, 
and to certain people. But I am not sure 
that she would be charming to a young 
teacher quite in her power." 

" In her power ? Nonsense ! It is not a 
question of buying a slave, but of hiring an 
L m ] 



278 MADAME LEROUX. 

assistant. If the young lady is not satisfied 
she can go away ; we shall have done all we 
undertook to do." 

" That is true, of course. But still "' 

"Eh bien?" 

"You see, Miss Smith is not quite of the 
ordinary stamp of teachers, such as Madame 
has been used to employ. She knows 
nothing of the world, and she has been 
brought up in certain ideas. Little little 
pious frauds, let us say, might scandalise 
her." 

"And if they did scandalise her, what 
business is that of yours ? But really I don't 
believe your Miss Smith is such an imbecile 
as you seem to think her. Besides, look 
here, Adolphe ; I know our friend is 
in need of a little ready money just now, 
and " 

"She generally is." 

" Of course she is ! That is as much as 
to say she is a civilised human being. And 
she will accept a smaller premium with Miss 
Smith than she has a right to demand." 

" Will she ? And then, to be sure, what 



MADAME LEROUX. 279 

you say is quite true. If Miss Smith does 
not like the place, she can leave it." 

A few days later, Mrs. Hawkins 
announced that Madame Leroux was com- 
ing to supper on the following evening, 
in order chiefly to see Miss Smith, and to 
conclude her engagement. 

" I have asked Frampton Fennell and 
Harrington Jersey to meet her," said Mrs, 
Hawkins. " I only hope they won't challenge 
each other to single combat for the sake of 
her beaux yeux. All the men go crazy about 
her." 

1 'Not quite all," observed Zephany, who 
happened to be present. 

" Ah, bah! you are no rule; for you 
never go crazy about anybody," returned 
Marie, placidly. " And I hope, Fatima, that 
you won't prejudice little Smith against 
Madame Leroux by any of your nonsensical 
dislike to her. This is a question of business 
It is very important that the girl should get 
this place ; and if I find you attempting to 
put a spoke in the wheel I shall be 
angry." 



2 8o MADAME LEROUX. 

Zephany looked at her attentively with 
his bright, keen eyes, but said nothing. 

Lucy was greatly excited by the news of 
the schoolmistress's approaching visit, and 
nervously anxious to please her. In reply to 
her questions, Mrs. Hawkins said that 
Madame would probably wish to hear her 
play, and speak French, but that no doubt it 
would be all right. 

" Oh, do you think it will ? " asked Lucy, 
eagerly. " I shall be nervous." 

" You need not be afraid, Mademoiselle," 
said Zephany, encouragingly, "/can answer 
for your French and German ; and Mrs. 
Hawkins, who is a very good judge, assures 
me that you play very well." 

Zephany at first had declined to join the 
supper party ; but when Lucy said, frankly 

''Oh, I am so sorry! It would give me 
courage to see you there," he changed his 
mind, and consented to appear among them. 

" My good friend, you will turn that girl's 
head if you don't take care," said Mrs. 
Hawkins to him, when Lucy had left the 
room. 



MADAME LEROUX. 281 

"No!" answered Zephany, in the loud, 
almost fierce, tone which he used, not in 
anger, but whenever he was earnest and 
emphatic. "It is too well ballasted with 
brains to be blown about by foolishness and 
vanity." 

"Your modesty may mislead you, mon 
ther" replied Mrs. Hawkins, looking at him 
through her half-closed eyelids, and smiling. 

" I am not so modest as you think, 
Madame. I know there are girls who would 
jump to the conclusion that I wanted to 
make love to them if I said a kind word, and 
would be charmed to think so, even of a poor 
devil like me, turned forty years of age, and 
giving lessons at half-a-crown an hour. But 
Mademoiselle Lucy is not of that sort. Don't 
alarm yourself! I know my ground." 

Marie was not in the least angry or 
offended ; she merely shrugged her shoulders 
and reflected privately that in some things 
men were all equally foolish ; and that 
Zephany, with all his acuteness and 
experience, had formed as exaggerated an 
idea of Miss Smith's lily-like candour as 



282 MADAME LEROUX. 

Adolphe had who was always soft and silly 
about women and children. 

The preparations for the supper party 
were of a more luxurious character than 
usual. Mr. Hawkins, by means of some of 
his mysterious transactions in the City, had 
latterly been flush of money, and whenever 
this was the case, Marie insisted on spending 
it without delay. The larger part of the 
expenditure generally took the shape of 
jewellery not so much for her personal 
adornment (although she affected no un- 
feminine indifference on this score) as 
because diamonds and emeralds are a form 
of portable property peculiarly well calculated 
to elude the researches of the Court of 
J Bankruptcy. 

On the festal evening, a diamond brooch 
(bought a bargain, second-hand) sparkled 
amid the old lace at her throat, and seemed 
to have lent some of its lustre to her child- 
like blue eyes. She was in very good looks 
and good spirits. Fatima, on the contrary, 
was not as cheerful as usual at the beginning 
of the evening ; and there were traces of 



MADAME LEROUX. 283; 

tears on her eyelids. But she recovered her- 
self before very long. It was contrary to the 
traditions and practice of the Hawkins family 
to be dull or sad for the past or the future, 
when there was an hour's enjoyment to be 
had in the present. 

The first guest to arrive was Mr. Har- 
rington Jersey. He loomed magnificent in 
full evening dress, with a hothouse flower in 
his coat, and his moustaches stiffly waxed. 

" Goodness, Jersey, what a swell you 
are ! " exclaimed Fatima, when he entered 
the drawing-room. 

" What's all this for ?" asked Mrs. Haw- 
kins, giving him one hand, and pretending 
to shade her eyes with the other. " Vous 
etes tblouissant ! " 

Lucy, seated modestly in a corner, 
amused herself in trying to imagine what 
Miss Feltham's feelings would be if she 
could witness this mode of receiving a guest 
in ordinary evening clothes. 

" The fact is," said Jersey, " I'm going 
on somewhere else, later. I know you don't 
require me to dress ; but I thought " 



284 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Oh, don't apologise. You look lovely ! " 

Jersey regarded himself gravely in the 
chimney-glass, and seemed to be somewhat 
of his hostess's opinion. " How d'ye do, 
Sheik ? " he said, saluting Zephany, on whom 
he had, long ago, bestowed this sobriquet. 
It hit off happily enough the subtle pecu- 
liarity of Zephany's manner the something 
indefinably untamed about the man, which 
was perceptible to a quick observer, and 
which differentiated him from the ordinary 
products of Western civilisation. 

Zephany showed his magnificent teeth 
for a moment, as the Irishman's big hand 
swallowed up his own slender brown one. 
There was a liking between the two men, 
who were friends after their fashion. 

" I've just seen that ass, Frumpy Fennell, 
at the Mountebanks," said Jersey, after he 
had been seated a short while. 

" Is Fennell a member of your club ? " 
asked Mr. Hawkins. 

" I'm sorry to say he is. And I'm not 
the only one who is sorry. But fellows had 
not the courage to keep him out, and they 



MADAME LEROUX. 285 

must put up with him. It's wonderful how 
he'll clear a room. The Tories ought to hire 
him to assist the police in my own happy 
native island. Give him the run of his 
tongue, and he'll disperse any mob in five 
minutes. His fellow-creatures flee from 
before his face." 

" Mr. Fennell is coming here to-night,' r 
observed Marie, in her quiet, silvery tones. 

" No ! You don't mean it ? " 

" Yes I do ; so you had better get your- 
self into a better frame of mind about him 
without delay." 

4 ' What's the matter with Fennell ?" said 
Mr. Hawkins good-humouredly. " I think 
he's rather good fun." 

" A vicious monkey may be good fun 
behind the bars of his cage at the Zoo ; but 
one doesn't thirst to enjoy his society in 
one's drawing-room." 

" Oh, come, come, Jersey ! Fennell isn't 
a monkey. He's a very clever fellow in his 
way." 

" He's such a conceited little beast ! And 
so envious ! " 



286 MADAME LEROUX. 

"f like him very much," said Marie, 
smiling. " He has sent me two private 
boxes and several stalls this season ; and I 
won't hear him run down.' J 

" I suppose he has been abusing some- 
thing of yours, in the newspapers," said 
Zephany, bluntly. 

"Well, he has ; but it isn't that that riles 
me ! The fellow's too insignificant, and the 
things he writes for are too second-rate, for 
it to matter a straw what he says of me. 
But what I can't stand is his poking it 
down your throat like Mrs. Squeers with the 
brimstone-and- treacle, and pretending to be 
astonished that you don't like ! He told me 
just now when I cut up rather rough over 
some strictures he volunteered on my Society 
Ballads, 'Songs of the Tea-Kettle ' that the 
ruin of high - class criticism was private 
partiality ; and that, for his part, he was 
always ready to express the most unfavour- 
able opinion of his dearest friends in the 
interests of Art ! " 

" How very quaint ! " exclaimed Lucy, 
almost involuntarily ; and then blushed in 



MADAME LEROUX. 287 

some confusion at having put in her 
word. 

" Quaint, do you call it, Miss Smith ? 
On my conscience, that's as mild and 
charitable a way of putting it as I ever 
heard ! " 

" Bah ! " exclaimed Zephany, contemp- 
tuously. " Any of us can abuse our friends. 
There's nothing in that ! Will he praise his 
enemy in the interests of Art ? " 

" By Jove, I wish I'd thought of saying 
that to him ! " 

A loud double-knock at the street-door at 
this moment made Lucy's heart beat quickly. 
The new-comer, however, was not Madame 
Leroux, but Mr. Fennell, who shortly ap- 
peared at the door of the drawing-room. 

He was a pallid, meagre, fretful-looking 
young man of about thirty, with light reddish 
hair, and a feeble straggling moustache of 
the same hue. He was very near-sighted ; 
and wore a pince-nez, which, whenever he 
wrinkled up his nose disdainfully (and he 
wrinkled it up rather frequently) fell off, and 
had to be replaced. He wore a morning 



288 MADAME LEROUX. 

coat, and coloured trousers, and looked in 
angry surprise at Jersey. 

"I must apologise to you, Mrs. Hawkins," 
he said. " I didn't dress. I thought " 

"You are quite right, Mr. Fennell," re- 
plied Marie, graciously. " You have done 
as I asked you. That is the best fotitesse." 

Fennell, who had been looking very sour 
and discontented, smoothed his ruffled plum- 
age at these words, and still more at the way 
in which they were said. 

" I confess I thought so," he answered ; 
" and, now you say so, I know it." 

His manner conveyed an affectation of 
supercilious indifference to mankind in 
general ; but, as he spoke, his eyes were 
continually roving from one to another of his 
audience, in the restless effort to judge of 
the effect which he was producing. He and 
Jersey exchanged a cool nod. 

" I didn't know you were coming here to- 
night," said Fennell. 

" And I didn't know you were coming 
here to-night," said Jersey. 

Which interesting statements of fact 



MADAME LEROUX. 289 

comprised all the conversation that took 
place between them during the rest of the 
evening. 

" Thank you so much, Mr. Fennell," said 
Marie, " for sending me a box for the new 
play." 

Fennell bowed. 

" I enjoyed it so much." 

Fennell bowed again, slightly elevating 
his eyebrows. 

" Don't you think it very good ? " 

" Well I I'm afraid not. You see it all 
depends on one's point of view." 

" Oh, yes ; I daresay you, who are so 
clever, can see fe a great many defects. But 
it was praised in the Jupiter, and in the 
Areopagus, wasn't it ? " 

Mr. Fennell smiled sarcastically. 

" My dear madam," said he, " with us, 
who are behind the scenes, that circumstance 
cannot weigh a grain not the hundredth 
part of a grain." 

"Oh!" 

" The whole system of contemporary 
criticism," began Mr. Fennell, fixing his eye- 
VOL. i. 19 



2 9 o MADAME LEROUX. 

glass firmly on his nose, and assuming a 
commanding position on the hearthrug, " is 
founded on a fundamental misconception of 
the functions of the critic. He should be 
Rhadamanthine ; he is human." 

4< Well, but there isn't much harm in that, 
is there ? " said Mr. Hawkins with a con- 
ciliatory air. 

" Not much harm ? But there there's 
what they have brought public opinion to! 
My dear sir, do you not perceive that in 
certain cases the suppressio veri is equivalent 
to the suggestio falsi, and that a man should 
not hesitate to crush " 

" Good gracious ! who is to be crushed ? 
I hope it isn't me, because I have none of 
the humble virtues of the herb of the field, 
and I shouldn't be any the better for crush- 
ing," said a full rich voice from the doorway, 
and the next moment Madame Leroux came 
forward with a rapid step, her hands held 
out, scattering salutations right and left as 
she entered the room. 

There was a suggestion of life, and 
warmth, and enjoyment in her face, her 



MADAME LEROUX. 291 

voice, her swift, but perfectly graceful, move- 
ments. Her figure was perhaps a little too 
full for symmetry, and her features were 
irregular ; but the contour of the cheeks, 
and chin, and rounded throat was firm and 
clear. She had the complexion of a true 
brunette, with a skin of smooth, fine texture. 
If the rich glow on her cheeks and lips were 
helped by art, it was art of a very delicate 
.and finished kind. Her eyebrows and eye- 
lashes were nearly black, and the eyes be- 
neath them of a bluish grey. A quantity of 
curling brown hair clustered round her fore- 
head, and was drawn at the back of the head 
into a careless knot, from which the ringlets 
here and there escaped, and fell in free, 
graceful curves, like the tendrils of a vine. 

Lucy gazed at her in speechless admira- 
tion and surprise. " Why did no one tell 
me that Madame Leroux was so handsome?" 
she whispered to Fatima. 

But Fatima merely answered in a dry 
tone, " You haven't seen her by daylight 
yet." 

" Oh, Fatima, that is nonsense ! A 



292 MADAME LEROUX. 

woman with that face must be strikingly 
handsome by any light ! " 

" Y yes ; I suppose she is handsome," 
admitted Fatima, grudgingly. " And she 
certainly does look marvellously young for 
her age." 

" Her age ! Why, how old is she ? " 

" How old should you suppose her to 
be ? " 

" Twenty-five," said Lucy, innocently. 

The other girl laughed. " Some people 
say she will never see forty-five again. But 
Marie thinks she is about thirty-seven." 

Meanwhile the subject of these whispered 
remarks was keeping up a lively sort of 
monologue to the circle that surrounded her ; 
interspersing her speech every now and then 
by a little low, rippling laugh. 

" I thought I never should get away," 
she was saying. " My old Fraulein, the 
German governess, who has been with me 
for ages, and never had a day's illness 
being, indeed, one of those hard, dry, useful 
people, who seem to be made of wood, like 
a cheap doll took it into her head to have 



MADAME LEROUX. 293 

the tooth-ache, and went off to bed at seven 
o'clock, leaving me plantte, with no one but 
myself to preside over the tea-table, a thing 
I detest. Then a British matron insisted 
on interviewing me to expound the peculiar 
character of her daughter's mind, which is 
shy, sensitive, timid, and requiring the utmost 
delicacy of treatment to develop its latent 
lustre the girl being simply a ninny- -une 
dinde, ma chere I But one had to listen and 
look sympathetic. After tea I could not 
stand it any longer. I felt as if my brain 
was rapidly softening in the unrelieved 
society of les jeunes meess. So I rushed into 
a cab, leaving the whole establishment to 
the care of Providence and the Metropolitan 
police-constables and me voila ! " 

" Oh, we should have been too dis- 
appointed if you had not come," said Mrs. 
Hawkins. 

Her husband, Jersey, and Fennell, were 
standing in an admiring group round 
Madame Leroux, and were so placed as to 
fence her off from the two girls who sat 
together at the other end of the room. 



294 MADAME LEROUX. 

Zephany had remained somewhat in the back- 
ground, sitting on a chair turned hindside 
foremost, resting his elbows on the back of it, 
and staring attentively at Madame Leroux. 

" Isn't she a delightful creature?" said 
Mr. Fennell in Zephany's ear. " Wonderful I 

Such verve, such vivacity ! I never saw 

anything like her, never ! " 

" I've seen something like her " 

" Where ? " 

" At the Gymnase, in Paris, twenty years 
ago," answered Zephany ; his eyes fixed with 
unwinking gravity on Madame Leroux. 

Perhaps she caught something of what 
he said ; for she turned round rather sharply, 
and the colour deepened perceptibly in her 
cheeks. " Oh, bon soir, Zephany," she said,. 
" I hadn't seen you." 

He stood up, made her a bow, and sat 
down again in silence. 

Mrs. Hawkins whispered to her guest, 
and passing her arm through Madame 
Leroux's, drew her apart to one of the win- 
dows, where they conversed in a low tone, 
" I'll accept your verdict as to the piano," 



MADAME LEROUX. 295 

said Madame Leroux. " We have professors, 
you know. She will have to grind with the 
practising. As to her French and German 
well, one knows the sort of thing. I'm 
resigned. Eh ? A really good accent. 
That's a marvel ! Is she English pur sang ? 
What's her name ? Smith ! English enough, 
certainly. Well, my dear, I must shut my 
eyes and open my mouth and take what 
Fortune sends me ; for, frankly, I'm hard up. 
If she is prepared to pay down her premium 
in hard cash, I'll say nothing about her 
board. We generally charge that for the 
first year." 

" You can have the money the day after 
to-morrow, if you like," said Mrs. Hawkins. 

"I'm running a risk, you know, Marie." 

" How ? " 

" I have always kept an impassable bar- 
rier between the school and my life outside 
it. I have never allowed any of my teachers 
to be acquainted with my own friends. One 
is obliged to submit to prunes and prism in 
one's trade ; but, really to carry prunes and 
prism into one's private life ! " 



296 MADAME LEROUX. 

" No, no, my dear," said Marie, quickly; 
" it's all right. No need to gener yourself. 
The girl is as quick and bright as a needle. 
She has been with us ten days, and has quite 
adapted herself to our ways. She will 
understand how to hold her tongue. She's 
an orphan, quite alone in the world. Some- 
one is paying this premium for her out of 
charity. She's dying for you to take her, 
and more than willing to do as she's bid." 

"Bon! V a pour Miss Smith! But I 
must have the money at once, understand." 

" Just step into my room and write a line 
that I can inclose to the girl's guardian ; and 
I have no doubt he will send a cheque by 
return of post." 

The two ladies withdrew for a few 
minutes, and when they returned, Mrs. 
Hawkins went up to Lucy with a congratu- 
latory smile. " There ! " she said, holding a 
sheet of note-paper before the girl's eyes. 
" The negotiation is concluded. Consider 
yourself engaged." 

" No ! Really ? Oh, Mrs. Hawkins, I 
am so glad ! But how ? She hasn't 



MADAME LEROUX. 297 

said a word to me ! Hasn't heard me play, 
or " 

" Madame takes my word for all that. 
I have only to send this letter to Mr. Shard, 
and all will be settled." 

Lucy looked eagerly at the few words of 
neat, small, foreign-looking writing ; and saw 
the signature at the bottom of the page, 
" Caroline Graham Leroux." 




CHAPTER XVII. 

" THIS is the young lady," said Mrs. Haw- 
kins, leading Lucy up to Madame Leroux. 

Lucy bowed nervously ; but the elder 
woman, instead of returning her salutation r 
stood gazing at her with a singular, dreamy, 
far-away look, as if she were lost to all 
around her. 

It passed in a few seconds, however, and 
gave place to a glance of cool inspection. 
" You have no experience, I think ? You 
have never taught ? " she said. 

" No, madame ; but I am most anxious 
to do my best. With a little direction, I 
think I shall soon be able to " 

" Oh, I dare say you will ; the duties are 
not very difficult. Fraulein Schulze will put 
you in the way." Then, with another 
[298] 



MADAME LEROUX. 299- 

thoughtful look at the girl's downcast face,, 
she turned away. " Where does she come 
from ? " she asked abruptly of Marie. 

" From Eastfield no, Westfield a 
village somewhere in the Midland counties. 
Her uncle, or uncle-in-law, is Adolphe's- 
cousin a Mr. Shard." 

Marie did not very accurately remember, 
if she had ever been told, the exact nature of 
Lucy's connection with the Shards, which 
she would have considered practically un- 
important. The amount of the percentage 
she would be able to secure for herself out 
of the premium was important ; and as to 
that she was perfectly clear. 

" Ah ! Bien ! " said Madame Leroux, 
passing her hand over her forehead once or 
twice, with the action of brushing something 
away. After that, she took no further notice 
of Lucy throughout the evening ; seeming,, 
indeed, to forget her existence altogether. 

Lucy was thus free to watch her unob- 
served, which she did with a strange mixture 
of feelings. She was vexed with herself for 
not being more elated at her success ; and 



300 MADAME LEROUX. 

yet it had all come about so differently from 
what she had expected. Her chief anxiety 
had been caused by the doubt whether her 
.acquirements would reach the standard 
required by the mistress of a " first-rate 
finishing school," as Mr. Hawkins described 
it. But all that part of the business had 
been passed over as if it were of trifling 
consequence. To be sure, Mrs. Hawkins 
had guaranteed her efficiency ; but she re- 
membered that, in discussing various schools, 
Mrs. Hawkins had by no means seemed to 
think that her unsupported recommendation 
would suffice to secure an engagement in any 
of them. 

" Well, certainly," said Lucy to herself, at 
length, "it is absolutely perverse to be dis- 
contented because I have succeeded too 
easily ! " And she resolved to be duly 
thankful and content. 

But such resolutions are more easily 
made than kept. 

She was conscious of a little sinking of 
the heart when she contrasted as she could 
not help doing the idea she had formed 



MADAME LEROUX. 301 

beforehand of the accomplished and clever 
head of a first-rate school with the reality 
before her. She had never imagined anyone 
even distantly resembling Madame Leroux. 
Madame was a great deal more brilliant, a 
great deal more handsome, possibly a great 
deal more clever but she was not Lucy's 
ideal schoolmistress. 

Then, too, the question kept persistently 
recurring to her mind ever since she had 
read the signature to the letter could this 
lady, who called herself Caroline Graham 
Leroux, be the same Caroline Graham of 
whom Miss Feltham had talked to her at 
Enderby Court ? Her mind inclined, now to 
an affirmative, now to a negative, answer, but 
rested satisfied with neither. Caroline Gra- 
ham, although not so common as as Lucy 
Smith, for instance was not so unusual a 
name but that it probably was borne by a 
great many women having no connection 
with each other. And yet she could not 
help fancying that some touches in Miss 
Feltham's description seemed to apply to 
this lady. When she remembered these, she 



.302 MADAME LEROUX. 

shrunk from admitting the possibility that 
the demoiselle de compagnie and her own 
future employer might be one and the same 
person. And yet, on the other hand, Caro- 
line Graham must surely have had some 
fine qualities to draw forth so emphatic a 
tribute of regard as Lady Charlotte had 
uttered at Sir Lionel's table. 

Over and over again she told herself that 
she would not trouble her head with any 
more speculations on the subject ; and over 
and over again the question returned with 
the persistence of a haunting- tune. 

At length she suddenly resolved to ask 
Mrs. Hawkins if she had ever heard Madame 
Leroux speak of the Earl of Grimstock or 
his family. She put her question very 
quietly, speaking close to Mrs. Hawkins's 
ear ; but that lady looked round quickly to 
see if Madame Leroux were listening, as she 
answered : 

" Tchut ! don't talk about them to her. 
Madame hates the sound of their name ! " 

" Hates the sound of their name ?" 

" Yes, they behaved very badly to her 



MADAME LEROUX. 303 



when she was a young girl turned her out 
of the house, and maligned her, and " 

" Oh, indeed, that is not true! There is 
some mistake!" exclaimed Lucy, impulsively. 

" Oh, I'm positive there was something 
of the kind. II y avail des histoires. But I 
know nothing about it. I was a child at the 
time. Only I remember that Caroline wrote 
to people she knew in Paris, where my 
family were living at the time, making out 
her own case. But do you know Lord 
Grimstock ? " asked Mrs. Hawkins, looking 
at her with mild curiosity. 

She did not display much surprise. 
Strong emotions were not in Marie's line. 
One of the traits in her, which many persons 
found most captivating, was the innocent 
serenity of her manner. It was far from 
being dull or stagnant ; but reminded one of 
the cheerful course of a clear, shallow little 
brook, which ripples and breaks itself now 
and again against some weed or pebble, just 
sufficiently to escape monotony, and to catch 
the play of the sunbeams. Such, at least, 
was the impression made on strangers, 



304 MADAME LEROUX. 

particularly on strangers of the male sex 
unless, indeed, they happened to be creditors 
anxious for the payment of a long-standing 
bill, in which case they were liable to find 
Mrs. Hawkins's graceful insouciance rather 
unsympathetic. 

"No, I do not know Lord Grimstock," 
answered Lucy, with a pained, perplexed 
expression on her face. " But I know some- 
one I was told a lady who had been 
governess in the family " 

"Ah! You should not attach any im- 
portance to that sort of thing, my dear Miss 
Smith ! Generally people's stories are not 
true. And if they are, it generally don't 
matter." 

It was hopeless to attempt any further 
explanation to, or expect any further elucida- 
tion from, Mrs. Hawkins. Lucy had heard 
enough to make her feel sure that Madame 
Leroux was the Caroline Graham who had 
once lived as a petted favourite in the Gaunt 
household. 

But how could it be that she should 
" hate the sound of their name," while Lady 



MADAME LEROUX. 305 

Charlotte made it a point of honour to praise 
her devotion to the family ? 

It was perplexing beyond measure. 
Lucy could not content herself with Mrs. 
Hawkins's philosophy. But the advice 
which that lady presently gave her was 
doubtless sound ; and had at least this merit 
by no means common to all friendly 
council that it was possible to follow it. 

" Listen, Miss Smith," Marie had said 
amiably. " I will give you a valuable hint. 
Madame Leroux demands, above all things, 
discretion in her subordinates. You are 
not likely to spread cancans in the school. 
You have too much sense. That kind of 
thing is not only vulgar, but bete. But I 
would advise you to say as little as possible 
about Madame, good or bad. It is so safe 
to hold one's tongue ! and so easy ! But I 
grant that if one once begins to talk, it is 
not at all easy to stop short just at the right 
point." 

Lucy glided back to her place near 
Fatima. 

" Well, what do you think of her now ? " 
VOL. i. 20 



306 MADAME LEROUX. 

asked the latter, with her eyes fixed on 
Madame Leroux. 

" She seems to have most brilliant spirits. 
I had scarcely imagined that a schoolmistress 
with all her weight of responsibility could 
be so merry ! But I suppose she enjoys 
getting out of school as much as any of her 
pupils." 

' Oh, yes," answered Fatima, bitterly, 
" No doubt she will be very different in 
Douro House, Kensington, to-morrow. She 
has a daylight manner as well as a daylight 
face." 

" I wish," said Lucy, to change the 
subject, "that Mr. Frampton Fennell would 
give us the conclusion of his lecture on 
criticism. I think he is very amusing. But 
surely he must be more than half in joke 
most of the time ! " 

" Neither Fennell nor any of the other 
men will trouble themselves to amuse us 
while Madame Leroux is here. She will 
take care of that. Just look ! None of 
them are taking the least notice even of 
Marie." 



MADAME LEROUX. 307 



Madame Leroux was seated at the oppo- 
site side of the room in a low chair near the 
fireplace. On the hearthrug in front of the 
empty grate, and with his elbow on the 
mantelpiece, stood Mr. Frampton Fennell, 
conspicuously absorbed in looking at and 
listening to her ; to her right hand, and a 
little behind her chair, sat Harrington Jersey, 
next to the sofa on which his hostess was 
placed ; and facing Madame, were Mr. Haw- 
kins and Zephany, the latter still resting his 
arms on the back of his chair, and still 
gravely regarding Madame Leroux. 

She was keeping them all in play with 
the adroitness and ease of an Indian juggler 
with a handful of balls. She no more 
allowed the attention of any one of the four 
men to wander from her than the Indian's 
lithe hand allows one of his glittering globes 
to fall to the ground. Now and then one 
might seem to be on the point of eluding 
her; but she was sure to catch him with 
triumphant dexterity, and to give him a 
graceful toss into the air, which made him 
fancy he was flying by his own impulse. 



3o8 MADAME LEROUX. 

It was a curious game for a disinterested 
spectator to watch. But poor Fatima looked 
on with a sick sinking of the heart, for she 
had suffered from it. A year ago she had 
fancied that Jersey cared for her. Perhaps 
it was his naturally soft and caressing manner 
towards women which had misled her ; per- 
haps he had really felt some tenderness for 
the girl, whose amiable and unselfish temper 
he had had many opportunities of appre- 
ciating, and whose undisguised and admiring 
belief in his talents was certainly very agree- 
able. Poor little Fatima had allowed her- 
self to fall over head and ears in love with 
the good-humoured Irishman ; and, for a 
while, was perfectly happy in her day- 
dream. 

But one day, Madame Leroux chancing 
to meet Jersey at the Hawkins's, all Fatima's 
cloud-castles were shattered and dispersed 
with ruthless celerity. 

" I wouldn't mind at least, I wouldn't 
complain," said Fatima, to herself, " if it 
were a question of his happiness. But she 
cares not a straw for him. She has taken 



MADAME LEROUX. 309 

him away from me for I think he did like 
me just to gratify her insatiable vanity. 
And when once that is accomplished, she 
will never give a second thought to either 
of us ! " 

But all these things Fatima proudly kept 
in her own heart, and spoke no word of 
them. Untrained, untutored, living among 
unscrupulous people and shifty ways, she yet 
was sound at the core, and had wholesome 
womanly instincts. And although she fre- 
quently outraged the conventional proprieties, 
there was not a man in all her miscellaneous 
acquaintance who would willingly have 
offended Fatima by so much as a light 
word. 

Peals of laughter now broke from the 
group near the fireplace, where the rest of 
the company had become the mere spectators 
of a sort of duel between Madame Leroux 
and Zephany. Zephany had been giving 
her his attention, it was true ; but she was 
sensible that it was not a wholly admiring 
attention. He remained inflexibly grave at 
many of her sallies. He was cool, quiet, 



310 MADAME LEROUX. 

and critical. Caroline Leroux's mettle was 
roused. Ruthlessly audacious, archly playful, 
airily vivacious " everything by turns, 
and nothing long " she addressed herself 
to extract a compliment from him, to extort 
a laugh, to compel him to admire her 
on some ground or other, no matter 
what. 

Gradually his icy manner thawed ; he 
grew warm in the contest ; she provoked 
him to answer her sharply once or twice, 
and then made as if she were mortified by 
his harshness. She assumed such an air of 
being hurt, humbled, and out of countenance 
at his superiority in word-fence, that he fell 
into the trap, and began to relent, to 
apologise, to soften what he had said. Upon 
this, she suddenly turned round with feline 
swiftness, and administered two or three 
pitiless coups de patte, in the shape of sar- 
castic mockery ; her eyes dancing, her red 
lips smiling in triumph. 

It was so clever, so unexpected, so 
frankly audacious, that Zephany, after a 
second's pause of dismay, burst into a 



MADAME LEROUX. 311 

genuine, almost boyish, laugh. He got up 
from his chair and kissed her hand. 

" Madame," said he, "I beg for quarter! 
You are invincible and irresistible." 

At this moment supper was announced, 
and Mr. Hawkins advanced to offer his arm 
to Madame Leroux, but she declined ; she 
would accept no escort but Zephany's. They 
.all rose together, laughing and talking. 

Madame Leroux put her arm through 
Zephany's, and turned her head coquettishly 
over her shoulder to speak to the others, who 
were following in her wake. 

" It's just like that delightful picture of 
Carpaccio's that I once saw in a little out-of- 
the-way church in Venice," she said. " Saint 
George has subdued a basilisk such a queer, 
grim, tragi-comical monster ! and holds him 
in a leash ; and one sees that the saint is a 
great deal prouder of his capture than he 
would have been of the beautifullest beast in 
creation. When one has bagged a basilisk 
one holds him tight." 

"And one lashes him hard," added 
Zephany. 



312 MADAME LEROUX. 

The whole party descended the stairs in 
unceremonious disorder ; and the two girls 
remained behind in the drawing-room abso- 
lutely forgotten. 

Lucy looked at her companion. " Do 
you think they mean us to have any supper ?' r 
she said, quietly. " Shall we go ?" 

To her surprise, the tears were stand- 
ing in Fatima's eyes, and she exclaimed, 
reproachfully 

" Oh, to think of Zephany ! The idea of 
his breaking down and condescending to 
flatter her ! and he knows better ! " Then 
she muttered, in a lower tone, " I think the 
woman is a witch ! " 

But the next moment her face brightened 
wonderfully, for Harrington Jersey appeared 
at the door. 

"Fatima! Miss Smith!" he called. 
" What are you doing here ? I am sent to 
bring you downstairs." 

"We were coming," answered Lucy. 
" Please to take Fatima, Mr. Jersey. There 
is not room for us to go together ; I will 
follow." 



MADAME LEROUX. 315, 

To Jersey it mattered very little which of 
the two girls he escorted ; but when Fatima 
looked up at him, radiant with delight, as she 
placed her hand on his coat-sleeve, he was 
touched, and said 

" We haven't had a chat together this 
ever so long, have we, Fatima ? You must 
sit next me. It will be quite like old times." 

The supper was an excellent one. Marie 
had taken the matter into her own hands \ 
and when she did so, the question of expense 
was never allowed to interfere with enjoy- 
ment. Indeed, she held it, moreover, to be 
a sound maxim of domestic economy, " That 
which you have eaten and drunk, your credi- 
tors cannot deprive you of." 

As the wine went round, Mr. Hawkins 
waxed eloquent on the extraordinary fortunes 
that were to be made with a sum of from 
one hundred and fifty to three hundred 
pounds to start with ; and bemoaned the 
" cursed spite" of Fate which seemed to 
have ordained that the people who knew 
how to speculate never should have any 
money, while the people who had money 



3i4 MADAME LEROUX. 



never understood how to speculate. Jersey 
became more tender in his manner to Fatima, 
and dropped his voice lower and lower as he 
talked into her willing ear. And even Mr. 
Fennell was impelled to bestow so much 
attention on his neighbour, Lucy, as con- 
sisted in addressing a good many profound 
observations to her, which no one else 
appeared to be at leisure to listen to. 

" I presume," said he, adjusting his eye- 
glass, and assuming a lofty air, "that you 
have not read much poetry." 

"Why?" asked Lucy demurely. 

"Eh? Why what?" 

" Why do you presume that I have not 
read much poetry ? " 

As Mr. Fennell had really had no reason 
on earth for saying so, beyond his vague and 
general notion that whosoever he happened 
to be conversing with would probably be in 
a position to require enlightenment from him, 
he was a little taken aback at this. 

"Oh well! ahem! young ladies of 

your age are not generally . However, 

I was about to remark that the distinct 



MADAME LEROUX. 315 

degradation of our literature in general, and 
our poetry in particular, is to be traced to the 
lax and weak indulgence of the critics." 

" Is it, indeed ? But then one cannot 
help asking, ' are literature and poetry in so 
very degraded a state ? ' ' 

"As to that, there cannot be a doubt." 

"Oh!" 

" Not the shadow of a doubt. Imagine 
a fellow like the man at the other end of the 
table publishing a volume of poems ! " 

" Mr. Jersey ? Oh, yes ; I know. They 
are only little vers de socidte, ' Songs of the 
Tea-Kettle.'" 

" Well, I assure you, Miss a Miss " 

" Smith." 

" Exactly ! I assure you, Miss Smith, 
that that wretched little volume is full of 
errors in taste, in syntax, in prosody ! " 

Lucy was tempted to inquire why her 
old friends orthography and etymology were 
omitted from the list ; but she forebore. 

"It contains specimens of every form of 
barbarism, solecism, and cacophony of which 
English verse is capable." 



3i6 MADAME LEROUX. 

" Dear me ! That sounds very dreadful." 

" But does any one boldly say so in print? 
Not at all. Jersey has the reputation of 
being * a good sort of fellow,' and so his 
friends in the press, if they do not actually 
belaud him and some do ! some even da 
that ! leave him alone, and the public taste 
is systematically degraded. So little is con- 
scientious sincerity on these points understood 
or appreciated, that when I myself, not many 
hours ago, made some rather searching 
strictures on the * Songs of the Tea-Kettle/ 
Jersey became angry absolutely lost his 
temper ! The great standards of Art are as 
nothing ; one must spare one's friends' sus- 
ceptibilities, forsooth ! " 

" But don't you think that the reviewers 
who praised Mr. Jersey's book may really 
have liked it ? " 

This suggestion appeared so utterly wild 
to Mr. Fennell that he disdained to reply to 
it, except by a scornful smile which had the 
effect of sending his eyeglass with a crash 
into his plate. 

Mrs. Hawkins now made a sign to Fatima, 



MADAME LEROUX. 317 

rose from the table ; and Lucy, seeing 
this, rose also. 

" Are you going?" asked Mr. Fennell. 

" I suppose so," answered Lucy, looking 
hesitatingly at Mrs. Hawkins. It was not 
the custom in that household for the men to 
remain at table after the ladies. They usually 
followed the foreign fashion, and all with- 
drew together. But now Mrs. Hawkins 
kept her place at the head of the table, and 
held out her hand to Lucy. 

" Good night, Miss Smith," she said, with 
her usual sweetness. 

" Good night," said Lucy. 

It was clearly intended that she should 
go ; and, accordingly, she moved quietly 
towards the door. Fatima, followed her 
with more reluctant steps, and they went 
upstairs together. 

" I know what that's for," said Fatima. 
" That's Madame Leroux's doing. She 
detests the society of young girls. They are 
going to smoke now." 

" Well, surely it is no injury that we are 
not allowed to partake of their smoke. I am 



3i8 MADAME LEROUX. 

very glad to be out of it, and very willing to 
go to bed." 

Fatima was vexed at being deprived of 
another hour of Jersey's society. But on the 
whole, she was far happier than she had been 
for a long time. He had been so kind, so 
sweet to her ! And he had scarcely looked 
at Madame Leroux all supper-time. 

Lucy lay down with the full intention of 
collecting her thoughts and reviewing the 
situation. Could it be really she, Lucy 
Marston, who had been spending the even- 
ing among all those strange people, and who, 
moreover, was engaged as a teacher in the 
school of Madame Leroux, formerly Caroline 
Graham ? The very sound of her own old 
name seemed to belong to a far-away time. 

But when she closed her eyes, pictures 
of End.erby Court and the village crowded 
into her mind. She thought not only of 
Mildred, but of many persons who had been 
familiar figures in her daily life, but for whom 
she had no special regard. Among those 
was Edgar Tomline. He had known the 
house where she was born ; and she wondered 



MADAME LEROUX. 319- 

if any memories remained among the people 
there of her own mother that mother who 
was like a phantom to her imagination, but 
of whom she had thought more and more of 
late in her friendless isolation. 

At length she fell asleep ; and, towards 
morning, dreamt that Madame Leroux, look- 
ing steadfastly at her, had changed into a 
basilisk ; and, trembling and oppressed, she 
woke to see the dingy dawn of London show 
its yellow face at her window, and begin 
the first day of the new life that lay before 
her. 



END OF FIRST VOLUME. 



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